I grew up in an environment where no one expressed emotion. It was simply a question of survival! When I came to know the Lord, so many things changed. I will be eternally grateful for my first years in the faith and for those who so patiently taught me and guided me in my first steps with God. They are my spiritual mothers and fathers and I love them. However, in the mentality of the evangelical church of that era, the same attitude existed: We don’t talk about problems and pain; lift up your head and walk strong; we can do it, go, go, go! And that attitude, now wrapped in Bible verses, persists: “We can do all things . . . rejoice always . . . in everything give thanks . . . lift your eyes . . . lift up your head . . . you’re a soldier! Up! Up! Up!”
Dear friend, when we stand with our head held high, shoulders straight, and eyes toward the sky, His arms are carrying us. Now don’t miss this. When our eyes stare downward and we are weary and beaten, in the desert, through famines and sorrow, despairing because of what has been lost or destroyed, it is written, “Underneath are the everlasting arms.” “A broken reed He will not throw away” (Isaiah 42:3).
The children who played all day on the banks of the lakes where Isaiah grew up (he is the one who gives us this incredible promise) knew this game. They would pick up a reed ever so cautiously, and as they blew into it, a high pitched, flute-like sound would fill the air as the kids laughed and screamed with delight. If the fragile reed broke, it would become useless, so they would throw it away and pick up another one. But God says, “I will not throw away what has been broken.” In essence, He is saying to you, “If your life has lost its melody, its song, if your prayer or praise is gone, if your silence screams for your altar at night, I will restore you. I will come and nurse the reed for as long as it takes, until you have recaptured your music and your joy before me.”
God says, “I don’t throw people away; I will not give up on you. Build your altar and I will rebuild you. I will not put out the flame that is still burning.”
Claude Houde is the lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.