Carefully, I sometimes say that to someone sharing that they are struggling with addiction.
Spent time in prison? You've received a gift. Dealing with a broken relationship? Facing an illness? Gift.
On the face of it, these things are awful. God never wants us to experience the pain of addiction, prison, broken relationships, and illness.
But we live in a broken world. A world where our single-minded pursuit of self-- a what's in it for me world-- has tragic consequences for all of us.
When we come face to face with our own brokenness, we experience our need for God and the forgiveness that comes through Jesus.
Today, it's possible to miss our fundamental brokenness and need for someone to save us. We are the wealthiest nation in the world...and if you earn more than $10 a day you are richer than 80% of the world. We can bury our inherent need for God under the trappings of our success, pleasures, food, relationships, homes and pursuits. And many of us do that very thing.
But when those things result in pain and suffering because of our selfishness or the broken world, we receive a gift.
God promises that "in all things (he) works for the good of those who love him." (Romans 8:28, NIV) Addiction is a gift because it shows that without God's power the addict will be unable to overcome his or her addiction. Broken relationships point to the need for the one relationship that will never break. Prison shows us that actions have consequences or that sometimes life is incredibly unfair, but that God forgives, sustains and will restore us to life. Illness ushers us into the realization that we are not in control of the days of our lives but we can trust the One who is in control and who is capable of healing.
Brokenness is the gift that allows us to experience the infinite love of God.