“Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God,” wrote Mother Teresa in the flyleaf of her Bible. Her words have challenged me for years. When I first read them, I thought of world hunger, corrupt governments, AIDS orphans, terrorism, and disease, but my view has broadened to include my neighbors who have recently experienced divorce, my mother-in-law’s loneliness, the frustration of a friend struggling with her wayward child, the weariness of a mom who patiently, tenderly cares for her special needs child, the hopelessness of another caught in addiction.
Sometimes I feel helpless in the midst of all this brokenness.
Saturday afternoon, I received a call from a neighbor disabled by Parkinson’s Disease. She’d recently had a mastectomy, and called to tell me her husband, her primary caregiver, had just had surgery to remove a malignant brain tumor. My heart broke. I offered meals and scheduled a work day to help keep up with their yard. It’s a short term solution. They need so much more help than we can give.
That evening, a friend called, pouring out her heart over a loved one’s struggle with addiction. “How do you help someone who doesn’t want help?” my friend sobbed. I don’t know. I only know that God is bigger than brain tumors and breast cancer and Parkinson’s, bigger than addiction and AIDs, bigger than our limited ability to help, and any solutions we can offer.
We want so often in our fast-food, drive-thru, easy-answer, instant-gratification culture to diagnose a problem and find an immediate solution. Sometimes, however, there are no easy answers, no quick solutions.
As I sat across the table from a friend recently, I thought, “She’s so strong. She tries to find the humor in what she’s going through, but her eyes speak what her words don’t.” It reminded me of the last lines of a poem I wrote in college titled, Veiled Expressions: “Vermeer captures only what he sees,/And then her soul/Bleeds through to stain/Her likeness on his canvas.” My friend’s soul bled through her strong façade, and broke my heart.
Perhaps it isn’t always what we can do, but how much we can love. Perhaps it’s more about walking with others through the pain than finding a solution for the pain. Perhaps it’s just our presence that soothes some of their brokenness. Perhaps that’s what keeps us from building another Tower of Babel. If we could solve all the problems, we wouldn’t need God. We would be God.
Father, keep us humble and mindful of who we are. Remind us that we don’t need to have all the answers, for You do. There is nothing we experience that You do not know completely. There is nothing that is out of Your control. Teach us to accept our finite limitations, and to rely on You, and You alone. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
By Cindee Re