Dealing With a “Broken Season” in Life (Part One) – Finding God in Video Games

Over the years, I have played a LOT of “broken games” … some that were based on licensed properties that were poorly made, others that possessed great potential but contained a few fatal flaws, and many that were terrible ideas that were somehow executed even worse than their concept. And then there is this new impossibly awful King Kong game, “Skull Island: Rise of Kong”, which has somehow found a way to be all three of these at the same time, emerging as possibly the most broken game of the modern era. I don’t know how someone takes the idea of a giant, powerful ape who battles both earthly and extra-terrestrial threats and turns it into a boring, repetitive, and completely broken gaming experience, but these developers found a way. From graphics that were apparently lifted out of the Stone Age to cutscenes that appear to have been left deliberately incomplete, this game has it all… if by “all” we mean everything that a person would typically NOT want in a modern gaming experience. Kong deserved much better than this… ANY animal deserves a better game than this, honestly.

What went wrong with Kong to earn the unwanted award of “Worst game of the year”? Well, the developer spilled the beans and explained that they were only given TWELVE months to completely build this game from start to finish… a difficult mission for any new title, and especially difficult when starting from scratch. Additionally, they received incredibly limited information on the specific details of the game they had been contracted to create, causing them to build parts without a roadmap on how these would be connected. And to offset the lack of development time, numerous shortcuts were deployed by the small studio creating the game under this intense time crunch… in some cases entire animations are broken or missing with a “still image” acting as a placeholder that was simply never completed. It is incredibly rare when a game that is THIS broken finds its way through the testing process and is launched in this incomplete fashion… and perhaps part of the problem is that it wasn’t tested at all. In a rush to simply get it to market, it is apparent that massive compromises were made… and if the game had been given the opportunity to be properly tested so it’s’ broken places could be rebuilt, we might have a decent game on our hands instead of THIS.

While there are many reasons a game comes to the public in a “broken state”, the aftermath can be devastating for the development studio, the publishers, and even the franchise that it was birthed from. In the real world, this typically results in real, permanent consequences… investments that can’t be recouped, losses of jobs, and in some severe cases even complete studio closure. With the cost of developing even the simplest of games at an all-time high, one broken game can have a resonating impact across hundreds of lives… and regardless of whether this “broken state” is the result of poor decisions that were made or simply misfortune, how a company chooses to respond to a “broken” game is often the most important decision they will ever make.

In our real-world lives, we will all inevitably experience one, if not many of these “broken” seasons… whether they are the consequences of our own actions, a convergence of events we had no control over, or a byproduct of decisions made by others, the result is the same. We emerge from these unwanted, life-defining events in a “broken” state… the previous trajectory of our lives forever changed in a manner that we cannot undo. No save point to restore, no checkpoint to reload… we are simply left staring face-to-face with this change that we cannot alter. All we control is our reaction to this undesired broken season we are entering into… and that starts with our response to the Lord.

I have experienced many of these life-altering “broken seasons” in life… I’m currently enduring one right now. And in this place of pain, frustration, and disappointment I searched the Bible in the hope of finding some guidance from the examples of others who have been faced with a “broken season” in their lives… not only to learn from their reactions, but also to see the Father’s response to them. I anticipated finding a bunch of verses about the Lord giving these hurting souls some shelter underneath the shadow of His wings or inviting them to bury their head into His shoulder while they shower Him with their tears… but that wasn’t where I was guided. While there are certainly a massive number of verses instructing us to bring our burdens to the Lord and find rest in His arms, I was led to a very different story of a “broken season” scenario… the way the Father responded to Jeremiah during his “broken season”. It was NOT exactly what I was expecting or what I was hoping for… but in my situation, it was exactly what I needed to hear.

A quick primer on Jeremiah… he was a loyal prophet who received the completely thankless mission of being the messenger of doom for the Jewish people prior to the Babylonian captivity. Commonly known as the “weeping prophet”, Jeremiah was tasked with sending the final warnings to a people who would never heed his call… his unique burden was one of constant frustration as he poured out his life to serve a generation who would never listen. While Jeremiah remained faithful to his calling, it was clear that this was taking a toll on him, and when the mistreated Jeremiah turned to the Lord to seek understanding on why everything seemed so unfair, the Father answered him with a directness that cut straight to my heart. Let’s start with Jeremiah’s prayer to God…

Jeremiah 12:1-2 Righteous are You, O Lord, when I plead with You; yet let me talk with You about Your judgments. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those happy who deal so treacherously? You have planted them, yes, they have taken root; they grow, yes, they bear fruit. You are near in their mouth but far from their mind.

Reasonable questions, right? After all of Jeremiah’s preaching and teaching, the unrepentant people not only continued to ignore his messages, but they actually seemed to be prospering in the process! I can see why Jeremiah was reaching his breaking point. But the manner in which the Lord addressed Jeremiah’s broken and frustrated spirit will challenge me for years to come…

Jeremiah 12:5 If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, in which you trusted, they wearied you, then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan?

Ouch. Simply put, the Father knew what remained ahead of Jeremiah… his path was going to get MUCH more difficult, the opposition was going to grow in ferocity, and his burden was going to feel even heavier. And if Jeremiah was struggling to deal with the setbacks and challenges he was currently facing, he would be completely overwhelmed by where this journey would lead him next. The road ahead would bring Jeremiah into opposition with the highest rulers in the land and make him the most unpopular man in the kingdom… and this painful path was preparing him for his destiny. Yes, this season was painful. It hurt. But the Lord did not allow this season to exist for the purposes of “breaking” Jeremiah… He was using these challenges to build him up STRONGER than he was before. The Lord was training and developing His chosen vessel so Jeremiah could do more than simply contend with humans… He was building him to run with racehorses.

The Lord does not bring pain or disappointment into our lives, but He DOES use these seasons of brokenness to build his children back STRONGER than they were before. The Lord didn’t break Job, but He DID build him back with twice what the devil had stolen from him. The Father didn’t cause our pain, but if we come to Him with all of our broken pieces, He WILL build us back stronger than before we were broken… and while it can hurt to know that He permitted these events to occur, it is because He knows how strong we will have to be in the future that He uses these “breaking points” to rebuild us better than we started. Job’s nightmare ended with a DOUBLE PORTION of the dream he once possessed, a principle that we also find in the very first Scripture that Christ quoted in His very first sermon from Isaiah 61… if we come to Him to comfort us and heal our brokenness instead of blaming Him for our pain, He rebuilds us TWICE as strong as we were before we were broken, no matter how it happened.

Isaiah 9:10 “The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with hewn stones; the sycamores are cut down, but we will replace them with cedars.”

Job 42:10-13 And the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then all his brothers, all his sisters, and all those who had been his acquaintances before, came to him and ate food with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversity that the Lord had brought upon him. Each one gave him a piece of silver and each a ring of gold. Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters.

Isaiah 61:1-4, 61:7 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” And they shall rebuild the old ruins, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations. Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, and instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double; everlasting joy shall be theirs.

To be very honest, I am STILL in my current broken season in life… but I am encouraged by the reminder that I serve a Savior who was “broken” for me.  And He wasn’t simply resurrected… He was brought back in a glorified state with all of His “broken” areas rebuilt.  Sure, He still carries His scars… but these serve as reminders of what He has overcome.  And when I look back at how the Lord had restored me in my past broken seasons, I see that He has faithfully rebuilt me after each one… stronger than before I had been broken. No matter how painful or final the “broken season” we are currently enduring in life seems to be, the fact that we are still here means that there is more to this story. And as we saw with the game that was supposed to represent “the rise of Kong”, this is not a process that can be rushed or completed through shortcuts. And unfortunately, the reaction from the publisher is to simply cut their losses and move on… meaning this game will forever remain in this broken state. But this current season of brokenness we are enduring only defines us if we choose to find our identity in what it stole from us instead of our Redeemer who rebuilds His broken children… even through our darkest and most painful experiences. He doesn’t just build us back… He rebuilds us with DOUBLE the strength that we had before. He knows that the battles we will be facing will only grow larger and more difficult, so He uses the attacks of our enemy to fortify our armor and grow our capabilities… because He didn’t simply design us to race against foot soldiers. We are being crafted to outrun thoroughbreds… one broken piece lovingly forged into unbreakable adamantium at a time.

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