Broken, Contrite and at Peace

By Ian Hodge 

We don’t have all the answers.

We know this, and yet we behave as if it weren’t true. We still believe in progress. Or, perhaps more accurately, we desperately cling to the enlightenment mantra of progress despite all evidence to the contrary. We’ve become a strange mixture of modern and postmodern thought, believing both that utopia is right around the corner and mockingly reminding each other that the word “utopia” literally means “nowhere.”

We know we don’t have all the answers, that we can’t have all the answers, but we act as if we do. 

We take big complex problems like school shootings and say that if we only had the right gun laws, they wouldn’t happen anymore. A simple solution for the complex problems of mental illness, human depravity, social inequalities, and the other myriad of issues that must contribute. We pretend that the people who agree with us are perfect while gleefully pointing out the failings of those on the other side. For example, the Clinton supporters who disapprove of Donald Trump’s affair with Stormy Daniels or the Trump supporters who approved of Clinton’s impeachment while defending Donald Trump. 

We still pretend that we have all the answers. When will we stop?

This will help. I came across a rather famous Bible verse once, from Psalm 51:17, “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” This sentiment runs throughout the Christian Bible.

I remember being confused by this. “Why does God want me to have a broken and contrite heart? Why would anyone want that for someone they ostensibly love?”

Because the truth is that our hearts, our spirits, our very innermost being, is broken. We pretend to have all the answers. We pretend to be good and pure and perfect. We pretend that “they,” not “we” are the problem. As Calvin of the immortal Calvin and Hobbes once said, “This is everybody’s fault but mine.” (You know it’s a good article when the Bible, Thomas More, and Bill Watterson are all quoted approvingly!)

The famous hymn, “Just as I Am” has it right. God hasn’t wanted a broken and contrite heart for me. Rather He tells me to stop pretending that I have all the answers, that the problem is all around me, but not in me. That it’s everyone’s fault but mine. He tells us to own it. Be real. He says, “I won’t despise you when you come broken and contrite. I knew what you were before you did. And I loved you even then. Just as you are.”

And there’s freedom in that. Someone finally sees all our brokenness (not just what we allow them to see) and loves us anyway. And, as Easter reminds us, someone who will one day root the brokenness out of us, and has already started doing so today.

I don’t have all the answers, but I know the one who does. And He loves me. And that’s enough.

God’s peace on you today. Just as you are.

Ian Hodge is pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Lemon Cove. He may be reached by calling 559-597-2249.

Prays Together is a rotating column between the pastors of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church as well as the Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church. 

This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.

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