The sand was comforting that day. And the sun filled sky was such a contrast to my gloomy internal world. I was searching for sea shells and sea glass as I ventured up and down the coast, but I was having difficulty coming across any shells that weren’t chipped or broken.
It was quite a confusing time. I had just graduated college, quit my job and moved to a new city. I was jobless, aimless, and quite isolated in this empty season of life. Searching for sea shells was a simple practice for me in this season that usually ended in handfuls of shoreline treasures. However, on this particular day, I was coming up short on anything but scraps from the sea.
A bit disappointed, I picked up the biggest piece of a shell I could find and carried it with me to a nearby rock. As I sat on that rock, I starred intently at the shell. I held it up an arm’s length away with a beautiful crisp ocean view in the background. Then as my arms fell back to my side, I let it rest in the palm of my left hand as I continued to stare at that shell.
As I held that shell, thumbing over it's jagged edges, something resonated in my soul with that broken shell. I realized after moments of starring at a simple sea-shell that my life felt like that shell, broken and alone. I began to tear up as I whispered to the Lord, ”I’m so broken. Do you even see me? Do you even care?”.
The only thing I heard on the beach that day was the crashing of the waves and the swirling wind. I must admit, those sounds were comforting, but God was noticeably silent in my moment of brokenness and unrest.
The very next day, I dragged myself to church and found a seat a comfortable distance from the pulpit. I was downcast and shut down throughout the entire service, but I was just glad that I made it to church that day. As the communion elements were passed out, I grabbed the juice and cracker anticipating that the end of service was near.
As the pastor prayed over the elements, I starred at the broken cracker in my left hand for what felt like an eternity. There was nothing special about that cracker, just like there was nothing special about that shell the day prior. But it captivated me. Suddenly I felt the Lord whisper,“It’s okay, Jen. I understand. I was broken too.”
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses…”
It was in this difficult season, the sort of time where it was a fight to get out of bed in the morning, when the Lord so sweetly made Himself known to me as a God who empathizes with my struggle.
As the years have gone on, I have found that this revelation of God was worth that season of struggle. It led me to know God in a relate-able way. He isn’t distant from my hurt; He doesn’t shame me from my brokenness. And though He doesn’t rush in to fix every heart ache or rescue me from every lonely hour, He is still there with me. I couldn’t possibly have understood the profound depths and reality of that last sentence unless I had walked through that season. And I couldn’t have understood even a glimmer of the brokenness He experienced on the road to the cross unless I had experienced my own brokenness.
As we approach Easter, I am so thankful for even the smallest bit of empathy for my Savior. This week, when I recount the gruesomeness of Good Friday, I remember a Savior who empathizes with me. I remember that His brokenness made room for mine.
Jen is a pastor, worship leader, writer, and songwriter living in Napa, California.