“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”—Psalm 34:18.
What do you do when you’re broken?
Years ago, my husband Chuck was in the hospital after a bad accident.
Things weren’t looking good.
Chuck had stopped breathing and it had taken four to five minutes for medical personnel to get a breathing tube in him. His heart stopped for 11 minutes. The medical people brought him back, but he was unresponsive.
Lots of people were praying and I begged God to heal my husband.
One morning I got up, ready to head to the hospital.
I felt so broken inside.
Kind of like broken glass.
That’s when I believe the Holy Spirit reminded me of a Bible story.
You can find a brief account of this in the 14th chapter of Mark, verse three.
At this time, Jesus is reclining at the table in the home of a man called Simon the Leper.
A woman comes into the house with an alabaster jar of very expense perfume.
She breaks the jar and pours the perfume on Christ’s head.
As I remembered that story, I sensed the Holy Spirit speaking so quietly inside my spirit — reminding me that the fragrant perfume didn’t come out of the jar until it was broken.
So my prayer became this: “Lord, if I must be broken, then let what comes out be rich and beautiful. Let it be encouraging to others and let it be a fragrant offering to you.”
I don’t know if I could have prayed that even six months earlier.
But here I was in a broken state needing my Savior to help piece me back together.
I learned that God can heal in amazing and even miraculous ways.
Chuck died on Feb. 28, 2013, two days after his 50th birthday and I was pain on two legs.
But the night before Chuck’s funeral, Jeanine Porter — a sister in Christ — talked about healing.
She gave me a big hug and said something like this: “When you are in those dark times, you just cry out to God — and you will heal.”
Before that time, I’d never thought about healing.
But Jeanine was right.
It’s been a long journey and it hasn’t been easy.
Yet two things I know about God.
The first is that he is so very faithful. I can’t tell you how many times God put the right person in the right place,
At the right time,
With the right word of comfort, knowledge or encouragement,
Right when I needed it most.
It started while Chuck was still in the hospital.
God brought family, friends, pastors and hospital staffers alongside to guide me.
I hate to mention anyone in particular because there were so many, but I think of Mary Goodwin hugging me after I got some terrible news; Shawna Mackey, the hospital staffer who prayed so fervently with me; and — after Chuck died — the nurse who told me to keep going and “just put one foot in front of the other.”
And then there was Justin Robart.
Justin and his twin brother Jared were our neighbors when our kids were younger.
They’d eat our macaroni and cheese and hang out with our oldest son Mike.
When I wanted to clean behind my couch, I’d ask the twins to pretend they were deep-sea diving. They’d jump behind the couch and start tossing out papers or a shoe or whatever had fallen behind the behemoth sofa.
Time passed. We moved away and only saw those kids occasionally.
Then one evening, while Chuck was still in the hospital, my daughter-in-law Rachel and I were heading into Omaha to see him when I got a text message.
“Are you hungry?”
It was Justin. He wanted us to meet him in the hospital waiting room.
When we got there, he had a warm, hamburger tater tot casserole (topped with cheese) that his girlfriend had made for us.
For people who’d become weary of eating fast food while running back and forth between Fremont and Omaha, the homemade casserole was a wonderful surprise.
What we couldn’t eat, Justin told us to share with other families whose loved ones were in the hospital.
At Chuck’s funeral, the twins were ready to step in and be pallbearers if we needed them.
Who’d have thought kids who had jumped behind our couch would be there when we really needed them?
Such memories have stayed with me even years later as I look ahead to new chapters in my life.
I don’t know what the future holds — and I don’t know why certain things happen — but God is good.
So what’s the other thing I know?
Actually, it’s something I learned a long time ago: Our God has a way of surprising us.
He can bring kind people into our lives to help and encourage us — right when we least expect it.
And our God still does miracles. We can see it in the births of children.
We see it when we face a mountain of work and somehow the Lord helps us get it all done.
We see it when physical, spiritual and emotional healing occurs.
When I think how broken I was and how far I’ve come, I’m amazed.
Granted, the first couple of years were real rough, but it seems like every year has gotten just a little bit better — as I’ve sought the Lord and depended on him for help.
God has a way of repairing broken people.
And his rich love has a way of shining through the cracks of broken people to provide hope to others.
As I look back, I can see where some of my richest columns came at the times of my deepest pain.
Now, I don’t like going through tough times, but I wonder if that’s when God’s power and mercy shines best. At the same time, we learn to cling to the only one who can be with us every second of the day.
So what will happen in the next chapters of my life? I don’t know, but I know how vital it is that I stay closely connected to my fellow believers and to God, who:
Has a proven track record of helping and healing broken-hearted people like me.
Who guides us through his word and the Holy Spirit.
And who can bring us through grief to places of peace.
Tammy Real-McKeighan is a reporter with the Fremont Tribune. She writes a weekly spiritual column.