In my study for one of my youth group lessons this week, I reread a section of the book The Reason for God by Timothy Keller. It’s an excellent book and I highly recommend it. This passage caught my attention:
Just after the climax of the trilogy The Lord of the Rings, Sam Gamgee discovers that his friend Gandalf was not dead (as he thought) but alive. He cries, “I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself! Is everything sad going to come untrue?” The answer of Christianity to that question is – yes. Everything sad is going to come untrue and it will somehow be greater for having once been broken and lost. (p 33)
I first read this passage a few years ago. I’ve wondered on this concept a number of times. How can something be greater for having once been broken and lost? Intellectually, I understand the concept. It’s the idea of redemption…of the joy that occurs when something that is lost is found, when something that is broken is restored. The pain of the loss makes the reunion a powerful celebration. I’ve understood this on an intellectual level, but recently, I’ve begun to understand it on a heart level.
As you may know, my 3 year old son suffered a couple severe leg injuries last Spring/Summer. The second injury occurred on a water slide. His leg has healed and he’s been cleared for normal activity for a number of months now. A couple weeks ago, we did a quick family overnight to a hotel with a water park. While he was initially VERY excited about the idea, as we neared the water park, he became visibly upset. When I asked him if he was afraid of going to the water park, he burst out in tears and said, “I don’t want to break my leg again”. That was a hard moment. Outwardly, he looks normal, but inwardly, he’s carrying around the fear of being injured again. I calmed him down and assured him he didn’t have to go down the water slide and that I would play with him in the shallow end of the pool. He played for a while and began to be more confident. He started asking to go play in other areas of the pool. While my wife was walking around with him, he walked right up to a baby slide and went down it on his own. He was so excited and went back up to do it again. In that moment, while holding back tears, I understood at the heart level what it means for something to be greater for having once been broken and lost. That moment was a celebration of his body healing and him overcoming his fears. It was a powerful moment.
We’re told that someday God will do away with all pain and suffering (Revelation 21:4). Until that day, we can cling to the hope found in Romans 8:28 and trust that everything will be better for having once been broken and lost.