“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world" (C.S. Lewis).
When a lamb (a human) continues to stray, Jesus breaks its leg and places it upon His shoulders. There it heals as Jesus takes care of it and helps its bones mend. When we mess up, when we accidentally wander away from Christ, sometimes God allows us to feel broken. Sometimes that is the only thing that can convince us to come back to Him.
But isn't that cruel? Isn't that selfish of God? Why would He allow us to experience this brokenness? Why would He break His precious lamb's leg?
Well, let's spend a moment in that lamb's shoes (or hooves). We will call him Bob. Bob did not mean to wander away from Christ. He did not even realize he had left. Bob was occupied with other things and did not even notice his Shepherd's voice calling for him to return. Wolves surrounded little Bob and he swiftly approached a cliff. Only God knew of these dangers ahead of Bob; only God could save him. God wanted to protect His precious lamb, so with tears in His eyes, He took His staff and broke his leg. Bob was confused. Why would His Father do this to Him? Didn't He love him? Didn't God know how much pain he was in? Did he even care? Had He abandoned Him?
But then God started to mend the broken bone. He took Bob into His arms, for the lamb could no longer even walk by himself. At first, the lamb was hesitant to accept the love from the Shepherd who had just allowed Him to feel such pain. But in his brokenness, he soon realized that only God could provide for him. He accepted the Shepherd's tender love. And soon, He realized that it wasn't that bad being broken. In a way, the lamb had always been broken, but it was only when God gave him this clear reminder that Bob truly saw his constant need for the Shepherd's aid. In Jesus' loving embrace, the lamb began to heal. He felt the presence and love of God at a time when he was in desperate need of it.
When the lamb could once again walk, Jesus set him down. Bob no longer wandered. He had seen the goodness of the Lord and he would try to never again be separated from Him. Why would he voluntarily give himself up to the wolves? Why would he leave this Shepherd who was willing to feel immense pain as He saw His prized lamb suffer, to carry this lamb for ages upon His own shoulders, and to provide for the lamb until he could once again walk? Bob no longer wandered, and his little lamb life was full of immense joy and bliss.
What we often forget with this story is that 1) God only wants to protect us and 2) it pains God to see us in pain.
We bring suffering upon ourselves through our sinful choices, but God can use this suffering to benefit us. We are the ones who chose to wander, so in a way, we force God's hand. We are so oblivious to His calls that only brokenness can heal us. Suffering can make us realize that we must return to Christ. It is Christ's megaphone when His attempts to quietly draw us back to Him are left unanswered. Any second lived away from Christ is dangerous to us. That's the whole reason God allows us to suffer. He can turn this momentary pain into everlasting joy. He knows that when we wander there are wolves that threaten to devour us, and He does not wish for us to live a life completely devoid of Him and the joy that ensues. His shouts for us to return are repeatedly ignored, so God turns to His staff. And it pains Him to do so.
It pains Him. He loves us unimaginably. He does not wish to see us hurting. I imagine that God must not enjoy having to put us through this pain. He does it only because He knows that if He does not, we will live forever without His loving presence. All He wants is for us to join Him in His caring embrace where we will be full of happiness. But regrettably, often the only way we can return to this happiness is to first endure that pain and brokenness.
Brokenness can be a blessing. In fact, someone told me the other day that "there is something beautiful about brokenness." At first, I didn't agree, but then I thought about the lamb. It realized God's goodness only when it was mending in His arms. This brokenness is beautiful. It is then that we are in most need of God's mercy. It is then that we are clinging tightest to God's embrace. It is in those moments of brokenness that we truly see how much we need Jesus.
If you still can't fully grasp why God would let us suffer, think of it like this. What if the lamb had wandered and been injured? Little Bob succumbed to the evils of the wilderness and his leg was broken. He was left on the cold ground to suffer alone. His bone healed, but there was no one to help him, so it healed incorrectly. He would spend the rest of his life limping, forever feeling remnants of pain from that original break...but then Jesus came and found Bob. He left his 99 sheep to search for that one. And when he saw that His lamb had been left to heal incorrectly, He re-broke his little leg so He could set it the way it was meant to be, the way that would allow the lamb to walk as well as it possibly could.
A more relatable image that pops into my mind is a Twilight reference (yes, I know...sorry). There is a scene where Carlisle has to re-break Jacob's quickly-mending bones if he wants to heal properly. It may seem cruel, but Carlisle has to do for Jacob's own good.
Anyways, take a lesson from Jacob the werewolf and Bob the lamb. If you feel broken, do not harden your heart. God's megaphone is speaking to you, and though you may not understand it, you must trust God's plan. You must trust that He cares for you, even when it feels like He has left you alone to suffer in isolation. In your brokenness, you have an amazing opportunity to be healed by One whose love is limitless. He will take your pain away. Just trust Him.
If you have wandered or have been injured and now feel like even God has abandoned you, do not give up. It is at this very moment that He wishes to heal you. Your doubts and insecurities may be trying to convince you that God has forgotten you, but you are not alone. God is with you in your suffering. He will hold you close to His heart until you can once again walk on your own two feet.
The suffering you feel is momentary, but the joy He will bring you lasts forever.
Related Song: Jesus, Friend of Sinners by Casting Crowns
Related Song: Jesus, Friend of Sinners by Casting Crowns