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When I was younger, I used to think if I could learn from everyone else’s mistakes, I could avoid making any major ones myself. Now there is some wisdom in that; certainly I have avoided a lot of situations and hardships simply from having the foresight and knowledge that comes from such searching. Yet I learned the hard way no matter how well I lay out my ideas and game plans, life has a way of not cooperating.

The truth is none of us get through this life without being broken. We think we can insulate ourselves from the pain with money, success or fame. Even in love we assume we’re safe from the deeper hurts in life now that someone we believe in and trust is by our side.

The real truth is safety is an illusion. There is no such thing. You willgo through challenges in this life that will break you. The key isn’t to insulate ourselves; the key is found in how we handle the moment of our brokenness. It’s a turning point; a fork in the road. It’s in that very moment you have a choice: to move forward toward healing and freedom in a way that will transform you, or to continue down that path of bitterness, shame and regret.

Two things I have learned. It’s in our brokenness Christ shows up most personally and helps us find a deeper, better way; and no matter how far down the path of bitterness and brokenness you are, it’s never too late to take the fork in the road that leads back to God and wholehearted living.

God is a good God. He’s not out to tempt you, to ruin or destroy you. Yet we also live in a fallen, broken world, which means challenges are going to come our way that are far greater than we can handle on our own. When you and I learn to lean into God during these storms, He rescues us in ways we could never anticipate or imagine.

I think that’s why those crazy early Christians wrote, “Look, we count as blessed those who persevered under hardship,” (James 5:11a). It’s because they knew in the depths of challenge and despair you and I would also see the depth of God’s mercy and love in ways we had only glimpsed before. Our faith becomes bedrock, unshakable. Even though our knees may still quiver and tremble and doubt can shadow our heart, His light pierces through more quickly each time we learn to trust and surrender to His voice.

When you’re sitting there sorting through the ashes of what were once your dreams, remember: “[God] has sent me to repair broken hearts, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners . . . to give them a beautiful crown instead of ashes, to anoint them with gladness instead of sorrow, to wrap them in victory, joy and praise instead of depression and sadness. People will call them magnificent …” (Isaiah 61:1b-3).

For Further Thought: God has a way of taking our shattered dreams and molding them into something even greater than we could have asked for or imagined. This week, pray for God to show you His vision for your life, and for the courage to then walk toward it.

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