Hope, Pain and suffering, Uncategorized

The Beauty of a Broken Life

Oklahoma. Sometimes I think you have to be half crazy to love this place.

Christmas day was absolutely beautiful! We had high temperatures near 70. Perfect weather! But then came Saturday. Rain. Rain. And more rain. We saw several inches of rain dumped on us in a matter of hours.

And then came the cold front. Sunday saw the largest variety of weather conditions I have ever seen in one state! We literally had severe thunderstorm warnings, tornado warnings, blizzard warnings, ice storm warnings, and winter weather warnings…all at the same time. Oh. And don’t forget to throw in an earthquake or two. There was something for everyone. We hunkered down at the house, a crockpot full of chili cooking in the kitchen. We gathered around the table for an afternoon of board games and card games.

Monday morning, we woke to nearly an inch of ice coating everything—trees, power lines, streets. Darkness covered everything as electric poles were downed by the heavy ice and strong winds, knocking out electricity for huge portions of the state. Trees lay destroyed, unable to withstand the weight of the ice. Devastation and destruction everywhere, even as the remnants of the last ice storm still littered the neighborhood.

And yet, as I drove home from work just before sunset Monday, I saw the most amazing scene. The sun finally began to peek out from behind the clouds. The ice glistened in the light of the sun, creating the most beautiful winter scene I believe I have ever seen. As the sky changed to a yellow-orange hue, the reflection only grew more beautiful.

I was captivated, mesmerized by the beauty before me. The ice had brought devastation, destruction. And yet, it was creating the most beautiful scene. Beauty emerging from destruction. Devastation reflecting glory.

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, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:1-3

Oh, what beautiful words! Words of hope. Words of prophecy. Words of comfort. Words of truth. Truth for you and truth for me.

Seven years ago, my life lay in complete destruction, devastation. I could see no way to experience beauty or to have a full life again.

But God…

God took the devastation and destruction I was experiencing. He looked down, began to shine his light on the pain. And, over time, his light caused my pain to shimmer and shine, to glisten and reflect his light. Just as the ice this week reflected the sun and created the most amazing view, God’s light has created a beautiful picture from the devastation I have experienced.

In the midst of the pain, it’s often hard to see what God is doing. We become consumed with the pain and devastation. We can’t see beyond the destruction.

And yet when we surrender to him, trust him with our pain and circumstances, he creates a beautiful picture of his goodness and his grace. He uses our pain to give our lives purpose and passion.

Let’s look at a few phrases from this passage:

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…

From the very beginning, I asked God to do an amazing work in me so he could do an amazing work through me. Never in my wildest imagination did I think I would be where I am today. I was resigned to working as a nurse (a good and noble profession), being a mom. Instead, God has used the devastation and destruction to fulfill my life-long dream of writing and speaking. He used the pain to prepare me, to give me compassion for those who are hurting around me. He used this journey to draw me into deeper faith, to learn to trust him fully and completely in all things. And now, he is giving me the opportunity to minister to others, to share his good news with those who are hurting. No greater joy!

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor

The last few years have been rough! As I look back over the trials even of just this year, I’m amazed at all that has been thrown at me. In the last 18 months, my oldest son has had two surgeries and multiple other medical problems. My dad has faced cancer and has had multiple surgeries. We’ve seen financial crises. We’ve seen family dissension. We’ve seen more than I can even seem to recall.

I honestly can’t complain that 2015 is almost behind us. I think I’m ready to turn the page, to start a new chapter. And somehow, I have an overwhelming and growing sense that 2016 will see the Lord’s favor. I am proclaiming today that God’s blessings are about to pour out, that we will see him move in mighty ways. “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God,” (Matthew 5:8).

to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

The sun is beginning to peek through the clouds. It won’t be long and his light will be shining down on you. The pain and devastation you have experienced will begin to glisten, shine, reflect his light. You will see his promise that “all things work for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28).

The pain and destruction will give way to a glorious picture, a breath-taking view that is greater than anything we could ever ask or imagine. It’s coming. It may not seem possible, but cling to that hope because beauty is coming!

They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor

When God has brought his work full circle, when he sees that the work he started is complete, you will stand strong and tall. You will be a towering oak, with roots that go down deep into your savior. Your faith will have been tried, tested, purified. You will be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

And the best part? God will use your life, your story, to display his splendor.

Lord Jesus, as we enter 2016, I offer myself to you. May I be a living sacrifice, a drink offering poured out and used up for you. May I be anointed to bring hope to the hurting, healing to the sick. May your work be complete in my life, may your favor rest upon me. Exchange my ashes for a crown of beauty, my mourning for joy. Let me be a shining light, a display of your splendor. May I always reflect your light and your glory. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Happy New Year, my dear friends!

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32 thoughts on “The Beauty of a Broken Life”

  1. TAKE ME OF YOUR EMAIL LIST. Thank You!

    From: Dena Johnson Ministries To: sonyarwest@att.net Sent: Wednesday, December 30, 2015 10:18 PM Subject: [New post] The Beauty of a Broken Life #yiv3573215181 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv3573215181 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv3573215181 a.yiv3573215181primaryactionlink:link, #yiv3573215181 a.yiv3573215181primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv3573215181 a.yiv3573215181primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv3573215181 a.yiv3573215181primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv3573215181 WordPress.com | Dena Johnson posted: “Oklahoma. Sometimes I think you have to be half crazy to love this place.Christmas day was absolutely beautiful! We had high temperatures near 70. Perfect weather! But then came Saturday. Rain. Rain. And more rain. We saw several inches of rain dumped o” | |

    1. Hi Sonya. I’m trying to find a way to unsubscribe you. To be honest, I can’t find a way for me to do that. Is there an unsubscribe link on the email? I’ll keep looking! God bless!

      1. I don’t understand why but ok. I am new to this sight so not sure how it really works. God Bless you to

      2. Can I ask why? I really don’t understand why. I feel like I missed something I know nothing about.

  2. Amen!Amen! , Thank you Dena, reading your inspiring words this morning fills my heart with so much contentment & joy. I ,like so many others can say life has been very tough this year. I divorced my husband earlier this year , he moved out immediately (not of choice) ,leaving me & our 6year old daughter to literally fend for ourselves until the house was sold 8months later . He became very sick soon after moving out & after months of battling with his health & trying to come to terms with what happened he succumbed to his illness and our dear Lord saw it fit to taken him home in September . This left our 6year old devastated & with a lot of questions as she doesn’t fully understand what happened to her Dad. I had and still have many emotional battles , sometimes questioning God’s plan for my life . I find myself crying more than I ever did in my life. I understand how difficult things can get financially , realising you are completely alone with only God to ask for help is how God slowly are bringing me back to him. I battled with faith after finding out the harsh truth that my husband, a minister could betray me & have affairs , where was God through all this? . I found it difficult to even say a prayer of thanks to God, it was and still is difficult to trust anyone. I found inspiration in your articles in Crosswalk & always looked forward to your next all inspiring blog. I know i have a long way to go, but I believe God has an awesome plan for my life .I cannot wait to start my life with God again ,I’m finding myself slowly , but surely crawling back to God and trust in his plan for my future. Here’s to wishing you everything beautiful for the coming year . Please do not stop this awesome work you doing , May you grow from strength to strength .God Bless you & may his countenance shine on you always .

    1. Oh, how I understand! Your story sounds so similar to mine (except the death). All I can say is that Hod has been faithful! There was a time I couldn’t open my bible or pray. But the Holy Spirit and friends made intercession for me. They sustained me. Eventually, I surrendered, and what a beautiful work he has done! It takes time. But he is faithful. He is good. He will make something beautiful from your mess! Just get as close to him as you can! Praying for you today!

  3. You have a wonderful, God-given talent, for saying just the right words to uplift others. I thank God that He has led me in a direction that I find faithful people like yourself to enter into my world. Thank you so much for sharing. You are truly a blessing. God Bless you and your family today and always and may 2016 be filled with everything that makes you happy.

    1. Thank you so much! It’s such a joy, an overwhelming thought, that God sees fit to use me. I only want his will. I’m so glad to have you on this journey and pray God’s blessings over you today!

  4. Happy New Year Dena! You have been such a blessing to me in a very dark time of my life. Thank you for allowing the Lord to use you so mightily to bless others. My prayer for you and your family is that this coming year will be full of continued blessings and growth !
    God Bless you

    Your sister in Christ
    Michele

  5. Wow, the entire article could have been written word for word about me except we live in Costa Rica instead of Ok. God called us here in 2006 and its good we didn’t know the fire of trials awaited us because we would have been too afraid to obey.

    Just as Dena writes the last 7 years I have experienced trials to the extent that I have asked God over and over why does it seem you want to destroy me instead of answer me? Many times I have felt as David says, how am I going to praise you from the grave? I thought I came here to glorify you not to be destroyed!

    One thing “I think” I am learning is that God wants men and women of faith. Men and women who are willing to blindly follow Him year after lonely, dissapointing year. Our culture has taught us the opposite. We are a results driven culture and when the results don’t come close to whats projected on the spread sheets we are supposed to dump the project and move on to the next because we are wasting precious “time”. And ” time” we are shouted at from every corner is “our” most valuable asset. How did Joseph know he wasn’t wasting precious time in Egypt? His dad’s place was only about a 3 weeks walking distance away and as inteligent as he was he could have easily been back home and avoided all that pain of false acusation and waiting, waiting, and more waiting. Humanly speaking he wasted 13 long years of the prime of his life!

    Inaction and waiting on the unforseeable is the most painful thing I’ve ever done! It takes a ton of faith to believe that those that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. The devil says, ” the problem with your waiting is that it’s not on the Lord, therefore it not gonna yield anything.”

    Pray for us we will pray for you! I am hoping, hoping, hoping 2016 will bring the change we are praying for. Humanly its impossible but that is precisely when God works! In that hope we embrace another year. Happy New Years to you and yours!

    1. I agree 100%! God took me on a journey of building my faith. It was such an exciting time! And then…he went silent. It’s as if he wants to see if I will continue to be faithful, even when he’s silent. He wants to test my faith, see if I will actually trust him. It’s the silence, the waiting, the painful days. And yet I know WHEN he comes through, it will be an opportunity to point the world back to him. He will get the glory! Hang in there, friend! I am praying 2016 will be your year to see the fulfillment of his promises and that your faith will withstand the fiery trials! God bless!

  6. My dear sister. You are in my heart and prayers. All of the women [and men] who visit this site are in my prayers. Yes 2016 will bring more favor. God, our Abba gave His own Son for us. What won’t He do for us now? Ne encouraged my brave sister. In the arms of our Saviour, there are ten thousand charms. 2016? Let’s explore every charm. I love you. Sister Romelle

  7. Amen! He is using you and gives us purpose in our sufferings

    2 Corinthians 1:3-7 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.

  8. Once again you helped me touch the hem of His garment. Thanks for being transparent and real reminding me that Christ is with me and I have hope beyond comprehension. Looking forward to your book.

  9. Thank you for your faithfulness and your courage to be “the real thing.” Having experienced something very similar to your story after 30 years of marriage, I can unashamedly say and with 100 percent assurance that without God’s love and promises, I could not have survived the pain and devastation of this rewriting of my book. Your writings have encouraged me.

  10. What beautiful words. 2015 has been a year of great sadness and major changes for me and my husband, but I know God has better plans for us, even though it is hard to keep my chin up some days. May we all experience a joyful and glorious 2016 🙂

  11. Dena,
    Thank you for sharing God’s words of encouragement through your writings.
    May you have a very blessed 2016!

  12. Thank you, this came at the perfect time. You are truly a gift from above with your words of comfort and blessing…May God bless you and keep you, may He bestow upon you much favor, grace and blessing…

  13. Hi Dena,

    Thank you for sharing your life so openly. The story you tell is so familiar with me, it’s almost like I was reading my own life. It so easy to lose focus and forget that our life is not our own but bought and paid for by God. His thoughts are above my own to understand why things happen but you hit the mark in explaining it.

    Thanks again.
    Rocco

    1. Thank you. The more I get to know God, the more I realize how little I understand him. 😊 But God is faithful, always working. What a joy to know him. Glad to have you on this journey!

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