Friday, June 28, 2013

The common language of brokenness

For the 16 June 2013 bulletin

The common language of brokenness

I read a fascinating story some months back which I filed away that I would like to share. It was about a North Carolina Judge Jesse Caldwell who told a story of Vietnamese woman who was waiting her turn to be examined in a crowded hospital emergency room.

She gradually became aware of a frustrating “non-conversation” being attempted a few seats down. A nurse was trying to ask a new patient for some details on her illness. The patient spoke Spanish. The nurse did not.

The Vietnamese woman listened for a minute then realized that while she didn’t speak Spanish she did understand the broken-English bits and phrases the Spanish speaking patient offered as answers. Because of her own experience of learning to communicate in “broken English,” the Vietnamese woman could hear the heart and gist of what this other woman was trying to say. The Vietnamese woman offered to “translate” the broken English of the Spanish speaker into something the nurse could understand. She was so successful at bridging the brokenness of their languages that eventually the Vietnamese woman was hired by the hospital as a kind of generic translator.

“Broken English” is actually acknowledge as an actual language!

While broken English was clearly the common language of so many hospital patients, there is large common denominator of broken-ness that we all share. All of us at one point of our lives (if not already on numerous occasions) will have our hearts broken as part and parcel of our human experience. While that may not certainly be a comforting thought, what is comforting is that God not only intimately understands broken heartedness, He is able to heal our broken hearts and our broken lives because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross.

Isaiah 53 is just one of many passages in the Bible which reminds us of this. May this passage encourage us to turn to a God who cares in our times of need.

He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
       and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
      Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
       yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
      But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
       upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
      All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
       and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.


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