There was a moment when I realized that China inspires me more than almost anything else. Not just China–adoption. I’ve considered myself a writer for a long time and I’m almost always writing. It was a sobering moment when I realized that I write the most during hard times.
It’s one of the hardest, most painful things I have ever seen. Adoption is God’s plan B after man’s rebellion. Children should not be orphaned, parents should not be abusive, babies should not be lost. But they are, because the world is broken–we broke it, mankind. (It is not, and never has been, God’s fault.) Adoption is like the cross. Adoption is recklessly hoping that we can pick up the broken pieces of what we shattered and trampled and fuse them together. We can. I believe that. But it doesn’t eliminate the pain when things break, when people die, when people disappear, when important stories fade into the mist and nobody can explain to us why things happened the way they did. If “adoption is a redemptive response to tragedy”, it must start with tragedy. It still hurts.
And yet I get most inspired to do what I love when I’m smack in the middle of it. Why? Why does pain inspire me? Why does God choose to meet me in the brokenness, the squalor and the slime, and the mind-boggling heart-ripping pain?
I noticed this the last time I went to China (a year ago, this week). Adoption, this insane, beautiful, painful, humbling, humiliating adventure, sparks my imagination in a strange way.
Why is this?
God created the world to be perfect, “good”. So why do I find so much beauty in the brokenness? Why do I find Him, so often, on the ground in the dirt? God gave me this gift, and I believe, with all my heart, that I am to use it to glorify Him.
Then why does it thrive on pain??
I say we’re supposed to run to pain. I run to it myself. But then, like a regular hypocrite, I recoil again and thrash against it. I cry, and whine, and scream for answers, and wonder why God won’t heal my cracking heart. I press my hot face against my tear-stained pillow in the dark and realize, even amid my complaining, that my mind is still going–the gears are turning. I’m going to have to write. I collapse onto the ashes and smoldering cigarette-butts. I nurse my bleeding fingers after pounding my fists against the rubbish piles we’ve made of forgotten bottle-caps and broken glass. And again and again my cut, sweaty, blistering hands grope for my pen. I thrive on pain.
But do I really?
“God is near to the brokenhearted.”
The human heart was made to be whole and beautiful. It was created in the image of God. His presence is where we are filled and inspired; we cannot thrive on brokenness. But the world is broken up and bloody, and God runs to the suffering. He picks up the ends we snapped off in rebellion and pride, and He fuses them together; He gathers up what we’ve beaten and broken and makes them new. He runs to the pain, He staggers to the cross and pours His own blood into our mess. He accepts our brokenness and makes something wonderful out of it.
We do not thrive on suffering.
God runs to the pain, and when we run to it, we meet Him there.