The little boy announced worriedly that his bike had a broken chain. The family was going away the next day for spring break, and he’d planned to take the bike along.
In a little boy’s world this was a big problem indeed, but in just a second it was resolved by his grandfather, who promised to drive to a local bike shop the next day and take care of things.
“Will that help?” he asked, and the child smiled.
Like the child, we, too, have things that are broken in our lives. Maybe we struggle with shattered relationships with a spouse or friend. Maybe we drag around a chain of painful memories. Maybe we look at the headlines and cringe at all the tragedies and disasters.
Is God silent? Has he turned his back on all the brokenness?
Some philosophers proclaimed in the 20th century that he was dead, an outdated concept, a remnant of earlier times that no longer applied in our oh so progressive world.
But the world hasn’t changed that much, really, when you consider human relationships. We still struggle to answer the same questions that applied in Christ’s time.
Who is my neighbor? How shall I treat my enemies? What does it mean to love?
The evening news covers the violence and bloodshed that result from not recognizing the spark of divinity — the immortal soul — that exists in every person, no matter what corner of the globe they inhabit, no matter what their religion is, no matter what shape, size or color they are.
Every person can relate to the little boy with a broken bike who needs help. But first he had to make his petition known. He had to admit something was wrong.
And so it is with all the brokenness in our lives, which starts small, with an argument, a shattered promise, a shouted word — and then spreads outward to encompass the whole world.
And so every day thousands suffer from the brutality and cruelty of others who are blind to the common humanity that connects us all.
God is still very much alive, and eager to rescue us. He has been defined in Christian teaching as love — and his existence is shown in every situation where someone offers a hand to another in need.
Whenever there is a horrifying disaster on the evening news, we also hear about the good Samaritans who are rushing in to patch things up. All around the world, millions of missionaries of God’s love hasten to fix whatever is broken.
In our own lives, we can present our petitions very humbly to God by simply telling him: “This is broken. This isn’t working. This hurts.”
He’ll send help. He’ll mend the torn fabric of our lives. But don’t expect an angel with big fancy wings or a shining vision from above. Sometimes love shows up as a humble grandfather at the bike shop.
Lorraine Murray’s most recent books are “Death of a Liturgist,” a mystery set in a small parish in Decatur, and “The Abbess of Andalusia,” a biography of Flannery O’Connor. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.