Neil Sedaka’s song “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” hit number one on Billboard Magazine’s Hot 100 in the summer of 1962. And as all who’ve loved and lost know, it is hard to do. But if you are in the wrong relationship, you must do it if you are ever to move on and unite with the right person.
My wife and I nursed many a young congregant through the heartbreak of a relationship ending. Indeed, we often encouraged and hastened the goodbye, assuring our tormented friend that only by enduring the tears of break up now, could joy arrive tomorrow.
Ford’s Model T debuted in 1908. By 1914, a quarter-million were being built each year. This was terrible for people who had spent years in the horse wagon business. In fact, in the year 1900, about 110,000 people were employed building or repairing carriages and harnesses. Nearly 250,000 blacksmiths lived and worked in America that year fitting shoes on countless horses. And thousands more kept busy sweeping tons of horse manure off city streets.
Jobs for horse-driven transport workers quickly vanished. However, there were soon far more automobiles than there had ever been horses and carriages and along with the cascade of cars came not thousands, but millions, of new jobs. The end of the horse-drawn era was tough on many and those who clung to the past deprived themselves of the blessings that were marching down the new highways.
Sometimes a divorce allows two people in a doomed marriage to rebuild new lives; the breakup of an empire allows many newly independent nations to thrive; the breaking up of an old building allows a new one to rise in its place or the breaking apart of an atom releases unimaginable amounts of energy and frees humans from drudgery. Every act of breaking, as painful as it always is, can launch something new that carries us further down the path of our own development as individuals, as a nation, and as the human family of God’s children.
I’d like to show you what the Hebrew verb for breaking looks like.
ש ב ר
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars…
But exactly the same word also means place of birth:
…for the children have arrived at the birthstool…
,And what is more, exactly the same word .also means food
And Jacob saw that there was food in Egypt…
ש ב ר
Ancient Jewish wisdom expresses this equation:
Breakup = Birth = Sustenance
The Lord’s language is teaching us that when something breaks and is destroyed, it also can give birth to something entirely new which can provide ongoing sustenance. It’s interesting that this idea has carried over into English where we have similar positive connotations for, “giving someone a break,” “breaking into a new business,” the phrase, “break of day” and of course, having a “breakthrough.”
One problem is that often we allow a breaking of something in our lives to break our spirits. Instead, we must ensure that it becomes the birth of something new and positive. To learn how to transform breakage into birth we need to see two more uses of the same Hebrew word which help to make everything clear.
And when Gideon heard the recounting of the dream and its interpretation…
I hoped for your salvation, Oh Lord…
That’s right, when confronting the breakup of something we regarded as valuable we must analyze and interpret the past but then we must face only forward and anticipate salvation with confidence.
End that bad relationship; analyze what went wrong and why you stuck with it; walk away and don’t look back; face the future with optimism. Convert your stock of buggy whips into fan belts and join the car revolution.
Breakup ► Birth ► Sustenance
…if you react with analysis and optimism.
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