The Cry of the Broken: Part 1

I return to the topic of the broken/wounded (I may use them interchangeably, even though they have slightly different referents and meanings). Three previous blog posts have generated interest, not necessarily in number of hits, but through interactions, both online and in person.

Liturgy —Brokenness, Forgiveness, and Praise 

God has amnesia

How deep the wound — How much deeper the healing 

Who does this apply to?

Some might think that “cry of the broken” is more a woman’s issue, or something they can readily talk about, “since women can cry easier than men,” or so we have heard. This is not referring to emotional crying, although that may be part of it. We also hear “Certainly men don’t talk about this!”

In many years of ministry and through personal experience, I have learned that this is not a man or woman issue, it is a human issue. Both men and women are affected by the brokenness, both encounter the cry from within. Yes, they may react differently, they may speak differently, but the brokenness is common to all. The cry of the broken does not segregate nor discriminate.

Where does it come from?

Now, the cry of the broken. By this, I refer to the unspoken, un-screamed desperation that we find hidden behind our thick protective veil. The veil protects us from outside attacks, and it protects us from reaching out to someone outside our world (me!). The brokenness can be something I caused through sin, something someone else caused by sin, or by the sinful reality of the world we live in. Each issue is approached differently for resolution, but the cry of the broken seems consistent.

When the cry is stifled, the sense of alienation increases. We sense that people pull away from us. We become tentative in responding to other’s needs. “How can I respond to them, when I am broken?”

The cry varies form person to person and from time to time. The immediate questions are often emotion driven — this is not to put it down or minimize them, just an observation. Then as time moves forward, the deeper cry comes to the surface.

Why is this happening?

What will happen next?

Why can’t I stop feeling this way?

Why doesn’t anyone understand?

Didn’t I just go through this last year?

God, where are you in this?

Is there an end to this?

Who can I turn to?

Who can I trust?

This post will not deal with the specific questions, but rather the reality of asking and what is behind that reality. Note that some of these questions come spontaneously and soon. Others take time to evolve and reach the lips.

The Law and Theodicy?

If anyone in your circle feels courageous enough to approach you in the midst of your cry of the broken, the attempt usually comes from a sense of Law. That is, “if you only would do this…” or more subtly but just as Law oriented, “if you only believed this, then…” As one who struggled through the cry of the broken, the last thing I wanted to hear was someone telling me what to do. I don’t mean something like “Don’t sin!” That’s an obvious “do.” But I am referring to the “steps to solve your problems” theology—whether with regard to spouse, children, parents, jobs, relationships, you name it, there is someone who had the steps laid out for me!

As a broken person, who has experienced the cry of the broken, the Law had already crushed me. One more command, one more demand, a proven program of ”seven steps to a better marriage,” even a “tough love” word would be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Or in this case, my brokenness was complete.

Quite often, pastors and churches will offer a theological solution called “theodicy.” Theodicy “is literature that seeks to justify the way God has dealt with people; it vindicates divine nature in the face of evil” (Tremper Longman, III and Raymond Dillard, An Introduction to the Old Testament, Zondervan, 2006, p. 182.). Job is the premier example of theodicy.

To be honest, theodicy leaves me short when I am experiencing the cry of the broken. I really don’t care whether God needs to be justified. That may not sound very “religious” but it is the truth. It’s like I have one more example, and one more exhortation, “If only you were more like Job!” “I’m not like Job, my world is falling apart, I am broken, and I don’t need another reinforcement of my brokenness.” And so goes my cry.

Is there another view?

As a Christian who confesses the faith as a Lutheran, one of the richest treasures of our heritage that I have discovered over the past 30 years, and re-discovered more in actual experience is the theology of the cross.

The next post will address what is the theology of the cross and what it means for someone in the midst of the cry of the broken.

Prayer Focus:

Amy Thornton (at Daily Weaving)

Lord God, you are gracious and loving, with wonderful patience. You demonstrate that in our lives and you continue to work in them. Today we ask that you continue your work of forming and growing Amy. We give thanks for your ability to use her talents and gifts to bring hope, peace, joy, and love even in her weaknesses. We pray for her family as well. Draw them all closer to you. Through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen

Author: exegete77

disciple of Jesus Christ, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, teacher, and theologian

4 thoughts on “The Cry of the Broken: Part 1”

  1. I look forward to more on this topic. I think there are many “broken” who do not allow the cry to reach the surface and instead feel that they need to feign some sort of super-spirituality. So glad to hear someone else bold to speak of these things…. bold, because of grace.


    1. Thanks, Emily. You are right about the desire or fear to cover it over. Hopefully this series will encourage people to examine it, and find appropriate expression and resolution for it. And you are so right about this being a grace issue; that is the scream of the broken, even if they are not aware of it.


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