Years ago when my body was spent from months of a mystery sickness and my soul was spent from failure, I moved in with a friend and somehow healed. It was a quote from Hemingway that help that healing along, "The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places" and I had to believe that was true.
You don't get to be twelve and not experience brokenness and you don't get to be sixty and escape it entirely, but I don't think the brokenness feels real until you are midway there. I am midway there and those broken places, oh, they are so broken.
Every few weeks I hear of yet another peer who is divorcing, another friend who couldn't stand the fear of life alone and so married in desperation, another friend who has lost a spouse or a child or a dream. The world is breaking us and we feel nothing but weakened by it.
I never understood Paul: His strength is made perfect in my weakness. Isn't Christ strength already perfect and how could my weakness make it better?
But these days I think less about perfection in an "Everything is right" sort of way and more about it in an "Everything is resolved" sort of way. Like a cadence that falls and lands on the the perfect ending note. That note is no more perfect when played by itself, but if that particular song were to end on any other note, it would feel unresolved, imperfect.
I think about strength now like that.
Being strong in the broken places only means that there is no other place for us to land but there, on that strength, on that note, in that place.
I take comfort in that because the world is breaking us and it will continue to do so. But Christ's love (and His strength) is what holds us there, kept, sustaining, until that final cadence falls and the Whole Places begin.