"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18 (NIV)
I walked down the aisle of the discount grocery looking for a bargain. It's always hit and miss in this store ... and I had missed ... again.
Before giving up and accepting defeat, I passed by a bin that caught my eye. The sign read: "Damaged Goods." It was filled with dented cans and missing labels ... no real rhyme or reason, just random items that were not shelf worthy. I knew just how that felt.
Life sometimes delivers the unexpected. Lessons learned in the school of hard knocks bruise us, dent us and remove the label that we believe defines who we are. A miscarriage strips away the title of mother. A divorce takes away the role of wife. A pink slip eliminates our role of employee.
We can feel as if we have been tossed into a bin, no longer worthy of a place on the shelf. With enough dents and damage, we can believe the lie that we are first-class failures and all hope is gone.
Shaking myself from my theological musings, I leaned over and intentionally chose a dented can with no label from the bin. I got it home and placed it on the counter with anxious anticipation. The whirr of the can opener finally penetrated the metal lid to reveal ... peaches!!! I let out a schoolgirl squeal! I love peaches!! What a treat to open this can and be greeted by one of my favorite fruits. The can was damaged but the contents were still good ... and sweet.
God continued the lesson He began in the grocery store.
I have been damaged. We all have to some degree. I am not living the life that I dreamed about when I was a kid. However, the damage that I have suffered has made the contents of my heart so much sweeter, so much more compassionate, so much more in pursuit of Jesus. I have been looked down upon and judged by many who have seen my labels missing and slapped on their own.
I've wanted to say, "Don't judge too quickly. My damage has not defined me. It is refining me." I may sometimes be at the bottom of life's bin, but Jesus paid as high a price for those of us at the bottom as He did for those that are proudly displayed on the top shelf. In fact, Psalm 34:18 reassures me that He is near to those who are crushed and broken. What a relief that is!
Look around. Is there someone in your life, your family or your church that you consider "damaged goods"? Don't miss an opportunity to reach out to them, to love them. You just might find a friendship that is good and sweet. And while reaching out to them, take a good look around at how the Lord is near to you. Wrap yourself up in His presence. That is one label that can't be taken from us!
Dear Lord, my life hasn't turned out exactly like I thought it would. But, I know You can still use me. Please forgive me for labeling others and judging them by their outside circumstances instead of the work that You are doing in their hearts. Help me realize that we all have dents but that's what keeps us desperate for You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond: Write down all the life circumstances that have "dented" your heart. Ask God to use your dents and scratches for your good and His glory.
Have you been judged unfairly? How did that make you feel?
Power Verses: Psalm 145:18, "The LORD is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth." (NLT)
Isaiah 61:1, "The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners ..." (NIV)
© 2013 by Carol Davis. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org