“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1). “In this love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
But if your rope is broken, how do you reconcile that with the fact that God loves and values you? Maybe you’ve thought at times: If God loves me, he has a strange way of showing it.
When the Bible says that you are loved, there are some wonderful implications that apply directly to your broken rope.
Your Broken Rope Has Purpose
Did you know that in the early days of plastic surgery, some people believed that the results wouldn’t be good if an anesthetic was used? In those days, if you wanted to change what God had given you, you had to endure a lot of pain.
God is fulfilling his purpose in you, in others, and in the world. You can’t get from here to there without hurt. Just as the early beliefs about plastic surgery entailed pain for gain, the only way to make significant progress is to endure some significant suffering and pain. If you want to have muscles, you have to work at it, and as you work at it, you’ll discover a high degree of soreness. If you want to play a musical instrument, you have to go through hours of sour notes and grueling practice. If you want to get a good education, you have to burn the midnight oil and suffer from bloodshot eyes and sleepless nights.
Now take that and apply it to your broken rope. Your tragedy and hurt is fulfilling a just, right, and proper purpose. What is that purpose? To be perfectly honest with you, I don’t know.
Sometimes we are missing the one thing we would like to know¾what is God accomplishing through our suffering? Oh, there are indications from Scripture, and sometimes God allows us to see what is being accomplished. But a lot of times we simply are not allowed to know what God is doing. What we do know is that God, because he loves us, is doing what is necessary.
Sometimes we simply have to trust that God loves us and that he knows what he’s doing. Do you remember that time Jesus washed the disciples’ feet? As Jesus was going around the table, stopping at the place of every disciple, Peter became irritated. He simply couldn’t understand why the Son of God should be washing anybody’s feet. It ought to be the other way around, he thought. And then Jesus said, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this” (John 13:7).
Jesus was telling Peter to trust him. He was saying, “I’m doing right, and you’ll understand. But for now just trust me.” God says that to us a lot. Your broken rope has a purpose. That purpose may be to bring you to a place of greater love and balance. Sometimes that purpose has to do with others. In that case, we can identify with Christ because he vicariously suffered for us. The purpose may have nothing to do with you or anybody you know, and when you get to heaven you’ll find out that your suffering was a part of a great, ultimately good plan, which you would not have understood even if God had explained it to you at the time.
I suspect that God says to those who have a broken rope (if we listen),”Child, I know it hurts. I know your fear and your emptiness. If there was a way your finite mind could understand, I would explain it to you. I want you to remember that if there were any other way, I would have chosen it. But there isn’t, so hang tough and someday you will understand.”
“But Steve,” you are saying, “that takes a lot of faith.” Of course it does. “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). His gift to you is faith. You simply have to ask him for it.
You Will Make It Through
Job was afraid that the pain he was suffering would destroy him: “Cease! Leave me alone, that I may take a little comfort, / Before I go to the place from which I shall not return” (Job 10:20-21).
Job’s fears of total destruction were groundless.
Let me give you a working principle: You can stand any tough times if you know they are only temporary. If you know that the suffering will end, you can get through it. God promises that, though it may hurt now, there will come an end, and you will not ultimately be destroyed. His love assures that “bottom-line” fact.
In Christ, God has taken away the threat of ultimate destruction. He has said, “I promise you that you will come out of this fine.” Once we know that, we can deal with a broken rope.
You Are Not Alone
Jesus said, “I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:16-18).
I love Ron Dunn’s comment: “People are always saying, ‘Jesus is all I need.’ You will never know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you’ve got. And when Jesus is all you’ve got, then and only then, will you know that Jesus is all you need.” Jesus is present when your rope breaks. Sometimes you can know him then in ways far deeper than when the pastures are green and the water is still. In the midst of your tragedy and suffering, you will find Jesus.
You Are Becoming Like Christ
God will use your broken rope to allow you to think his thoughts after him, to become like him and reflect his character. Paul wrote, “We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed¾always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh” (2 Corinthians 4:8-11). Peter said, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings” (1 Peter 4:12-13a).
Jesus spoke of the believer’s identifying with him in suffering: “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:18-20).
Here is good news for the believer: God loves you and he loves you a whole lot.
The point is this: If you have never suffered, it is hard to see things from the perspective of those who suffer. And it is particularly hard to see things from Christ’s perspective.
If you have never suffered, you don’t have the right to offer advice to or pass judgment on those who have. You simply don’t have the data with which to understand their experience. Jesus bore intense pain, and only when I bear intense pain can I even begin to understand something of his thoughts and his love. Don’t underestimate that gift.
Your Broken Rope Is Redemptive
Paul said a strange thing in the book of Colossians: “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake His body, which is the church.” (Colossians 1:24).
When your rope breaks, you can use it in a redemptive way. Sometimes we choose to allow the rope to break because of our love for others. Paul is a good example of that (2 Corinthians 11:23-28), and there are many more. And then there is the witness we give to others when our rope breaks.
Suffering can also be redemptive to the one who suffers. Suffering purifies us. In other words, maturing in Christ is a process of being crucified with Christ. It means allowing our egos to die so when it comes our time to die physically, we will already understand the nature of death. Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). It is like the hurt of the surgeon’s knife that brings healing.
You Have A Fellow Sufferer
God has identified with you and has suffered from broken ropes too. The Bible says, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
Christ died not just to keep you from dying, but to die the way you must die; he suffered not to keep you from suffering, but to suffer just as you must suffer. He felt fear and temptation not just to keep you from feeling fear and temptation, but to be afraid and tempted the way you are afraid and tempted. He experienced the loss of friends, family, and support, not just to keep you from that loss, but to lose friends, family, and support as you must lose them. Peter wrote, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps” (1 Peter 2:21).
When you’re holding a broken rope, remember those six implications. God loves and values you...and he will never let you go.
Adapted from Steve’s book, When Your Rope Breaks.