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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Ehmke, MA, LPC

Brokeness Up Close

“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.”

Deuteronomy 33:12 (NIV)

It’s only mid-week and I’m tired.

For reasons yet unknown to me, God has been allowing me to see deeper into the brokenness of humanity and the evil that is present in our world in a very up close and personal way.

Yes, part of my job as a counselor is listening to difficult things, and I’ve learned over the years how to let God carry those burdens, but this week has gone to a new level.

My schedule has changed and in addition to private practice, I’ve started spending time counseling women who are about to get out of prison. So here I am, actually spending time IN prison, with airlock doors, guards and a lot of broken people (inmates and guards alike). A chill literally went up my spine the first time I “walked across the yard.” All I could do was look up to heaven and think, “Lord, why did you bring me here?”

As I’ve gotten used to the environment and fear has “somewhat” subsided, I’ve found that I love working with the women. For many (not all), there is an openness to change and a desire for help. It is in this dark place I get to shine light and offer the hope of redemption, which I truly believe is possible for each and every woman I spend time counseling.

When I tell people what I’m doing now, there is typically a small gasp followed by, “Oh, that must be so rewarding. I bet you’re doing such good work. I could never do what you do.” I always smile and politely say something like, “Well, it’s definitely not what I ever would have thought I’d be doing, but it’s where God has me,” or something along those lines. There is more truth in my words than people want to believe.

The truth is, the work doesn’t feel rewarding. At times it feels overwhelming. This week alone, I’ve heard the stories of eleven different women - stories of neglect, abuse, addiction and unspeakable evil, some done by these women and some done to them. I found myself weeping inside while holding out a hopeful smile as they shared. All the while wondering, “Lord, where were you in their lives when all these horrible things were happening?”

Don’t be surprised; it is ok to ask these questions to our Lord. In the face of unspeakable evil, sometimes there is nothing else to do, but come to him and ask such questions. I still know he is a good and faithful Savior, and there are things I will never understand about our broken world this side of glory, but it helps my heart to ask anyway. My humanness needs to ask.

I believe the Holy Spirit led me to the verse in Deuteronomy because after a week like this, it gives me the visual I need to keep moving forward in the work God has called me to for this season.

“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders." Deut. 33:12, NIV

My favorite part is, “the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.” What a picture of intimacy.

Do you remember when you were little? Did you ever get a piggyback ride from your mom or dad and nestle down in between their shoulder blades? It felt so exhilarating with nothing to do but rest and be held. That’s the imagery here in this verse!

God loves us so much, and in those times when we face things that are hard and overwhelming, there is an invitation for all of us to “rest secure in him”and to let him carry us “between his shoulders.”

Questions about our broken world will still arise in our hearts, but I’m confident in God’s faithfulness to carry us through and to welcome all our questions.

I don’t know what you’re facing right now, but I feel better knowing my King has got me and that he will carry me through, giving me all I need to do the work he’s set before me. I hope you too find the same comfort from this verse as he has brought me.

For Your Reflection…

Sometimes it’s hard not to wonder where God is when we see the brokenness in our world. This doesn’t mean we lack faith, it just means we are human.

What questions are you afraid to bring to God? What if he is waiting for you to bring them, ready to carry you through your difficulties and doubts?


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