The theology of Humpty Dumpty is rich and bold, asserting that mankind cannot fix the problems we’ve created for ourselves. “All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty back together agin.”
That’s grown-up truthfulness in a childlike guise.
Our plight as humanity is more desperate than the nursery rhyme suggests, for we are not a single fallen being but many. We all have cracks and bruises that prove irreparable by our own effort. So we run around armed with shards of ourselves, victims of our own brokenness, barking suggestions about how others might put themselves back together. We are the king’s horses. We are the king’s men. But we are also Humpty Dumpty. All of us are both, leaving us ill-equipped at fixing what’s wrong. The task is too large. The state of our state is chaos.
Brokenness has a way of doing that — throwing things into chaos. Personal chaos. Political chaos. Religious chaos. Economic chaos. Community chaos. Our “isms” are our illness and our naive attempt at a cure.
Racism, socialism, nationalism, altruism, agnosticism, legalism, materialism, consumerism, naturalism, pacifism, rationalism, Marxism, communism, individualism, a thousand other isms–these are the tools we attempt to use to bring order to the chaos. In truth, they are the actually the walls from which we tumbled. It is trusting in them that got us to this point. Our hopes were poorly placed. So the battle with brokenness goes on and on again and again. Our isms won’t fix it. Failing to find a cure has led to more failure. So we do the only thing we know to do–we fight.
We fight each other. We fight ourselves. We ball up our fists and ask God or the gods or some unnamed, cruel figure we might believe in why things have to be this way.
We are warriors in a battle being waged visibly and invisibly each and every day. Against ourselves, against our problems, against one another. Broken soldiers breaking other broken soldiers, thinking if we just swing our sword hard enough it will all be okay. It’s not okay. You know the rhyme. The kings horses and the kings men couldn’t put the fallen Humpty Dumpty back together.
Even though Humpty Dumpty is accurate in it’s theology of brokenness, I always disliked the nursery rhyme. It had a passive character that I thought was the answer to the whole mess. An obvious solution sat idle in a castle somewhere, dispatching his subordinates to fix what was broken. The King surely could’ve done something for Humpty Dumpty. When his subjects failed to put the pieces back together, the King could’ve stepped in and did what only the King could do.
This, of course, is the Christian Gospel.
Unlike the childhood tale, our King did not remain in the castle. When there was brokenness and decay and weariness and lots of hurt people hurting people, He left His throne room and put Himself on the same wall, among the same cracked people, in the thick of the war being fought between his subjects. He fell, voluntarily, into the muck, allowing His own body to be broken so that we would have a real promise to bank on in our own state of disrepair. Real hope.
Not that we won’t be broken, but that we don’t have to stay broken.
The promise isn’t that we won’t take our tumbles, but rather that we need not swing the shards of our broken selves at one another. Our bruises and isms are not meant to be armor. They are not the cure. The promise that we don’t have to stay broken, because of our Great King, is our hope.
The king’s horses can’t do it.
The king’s men can’t do it.
Our wars won’t do it.
Our strategy won’t do it.
We need not wear our brokenness like a badge of honor.
Our King can put us back together. Then, armed with His healing, we become agents of healing as well. People of peace. Soldiers with the impenetrable armor of redemption, of having been broken but then restored by our King who saw fit to experience our mess so He could set things right.
Humpty Dumpty may be correct in it’s theology, but I like our ending better. So re-write your story. It will include brokenness, of course. We are all Humpty Dumpty. But where the king’s men fail the King will not. Trust Jesus to redeem your story so it doesn’t end with hopelessness and brokenness but restoration and joy.