They always apologize when they cry. As if they’re doing something wrong. As if they’ve also failed at the very simple task of keeping it together.
My God? Why have you forsaken me? They never say this out loud, of course, but that is why they are here. What will become of me? Who will rescue me? Have you brought me here to die?
We sit in silence for a while. Soon enough we’ll turn our attention to the trickles and tributaries of human suffering that, over time, gouge the heart’s landscape and empty into the deep river-valley of every soul.
But for now, we wait quietly in the sacred space created when two or three come together with the intention of listening for God.
“You will not be swept away,” I finally say. “Your people will not be swept away. You are anchored securely to God and he won’t let you go.” I believe this for each one as she cries, even when she can’t believe it for herself.
A bruised reed He will not break.
They all want to believe this is true, of course, but they can’t. Because believing takes both energy and hope and they have neither. They’ve lost their footing, and are being dragged by the brute force of a river that roars louder than all the words.
Husbands have failed them. Dates have raped them. Parents have abused or abandoned them. Children have rejected them. The inner-circle has shamed them. Friends have discarded them for newer, stronger, and less-damaged friends.
They come as a bruised and helpless reed, torn roughly from the bank, and at the mercy of the roiling river. Where will this end? They cry. Will I go under? Will anyone care?
They always apologize as they weep. As if they can control the power of the dreadful current that, left unchecked, will surely sweep them far out to sea. My God? Why have you forsaken me? Why am I not rescued? Why do you hide your face from me?
They can’t pray and so I pray for them. “Remember Jesus.”
Because Jesus was swept away. He was broken, bruised, and roughly torn. He was abandoned, shamed, abused, and left for dead, even though he was God’s only and beloved son. Jesus was the bruised reed, broken for you.
Jesus was left utterly alone in the filthy river, friendless and vulnerable in the valley of death. His own father – the Creator God – provided no comfort as his son was dragged under and swallowed up beneath the force of all the world’s shame. Jesus was the bruised reed, broken for you.
The Son, out of great love for the Father, was willing to go into the river of death to rescue a drowning world. This cost him everything; his life; all earthly consolation; and what was most dear to him – his own Father’s presence.
Jesus did all this so that you might have what all heaven and nature knows to be the most precious thing of all: the unfailing presence and protection of a living God who will not let his people go.
Jesus was the bruised reed, broken for many. He did this so that those who God loves might be healed, whole, unashamed, and safe with him forever.
We are bruised reeds, yes, but like Jesus, we too will be raised up and fully restored to everything right. And until that day, the God of heaven and earth will keep secure in his Name the well-loved children he calls his own.
Shalom to you and yours, because you are firmly rooted on the bank of the river of Life. And even now Christ carries you along, tenderly and securely, into the loving arms of your Heavenly Father.