Broken & Beautiful

We are all broken vessels. 

We each experience pain, loss or devastation that breaks our hearts and shatters our life as we knew it. But God promises to take every ruined piece and transform us into new creations that are more worthy and more lovely. God provided us a Savior who was broken unto death so we might be redeemed and made whole. God promises to restore and transform our brokenness into beauty.

The ancient art of repairing broken pottery into a masterful new piece is called kintsugi, or “golden joinery.” The philosophy behind the craft is to use the pottery’s broken lines to create something even more beautiful. Instead of hiding the fractures or discarding the broken pieces, artisans use gold, silver and platinum powders to emblazon the cracks. The technique is rooted in the Japanese idea that there is beauty in imperfections. The exquisite seams transform the broken vessel by accentuating the brokenness of its story.

We, too, are broken vessels.

Because of sin, we can’t escape devastation, loss or betrayal. The Bible promises that tragedy can fall on anyone without discrimination (Matthew 5:45). We will all experience broken hearts, identity threats and hopelessness that feels beyond repair. Our responses to suffering vary according to personality. The temptation can be to repress the pain, forcing ourselves to move forward, or to desperately grasp for comfort in anything and everything to dull the pain for even a moment.

Life as we know it will never be the same. A crack spreads through our hearts, dividing and shattering it into a million pieces. This kind of brokenness marks us and becomes permanently inked on the pages of our history.

We are told that time heals all wounds. It’s a beautiful sentiment that provides us with hope that there is a light at the end of a dark and painful tunnel. It encourages us to hold on a little longer for a day when relief replaces the acute pain that comes with affliction. Time causes some of the initial pain to subside into a dull ache but cannot fully transform or heal our wounds.

When we experience crushing blows, our instinct is to simply survive. But God has more in mind for us than simply survival. Our God takes what is broken, ruined and traumatized, and heals, restores and transforms. He takes what is broken beyond repair and restores us into new and beautiful creations. God promises us not one tear shed over the pain, not one sliver of the fracture, not one groan of grief will be wasted (Romans 8:28). Because of His love for us, our pain is not senseless or punitive but instead is full of meaning and worth. God writes for us a story of redemption. When we surrender and trust God to heal what has been broken, we experience transformation and restoration.

God’s plan of redemption is through the life and death of His Son, Jesus, the Man of Sorrows, who intimately knows the pain and anguish of brokenness. Jesus’ physical body was tortured and beaten nearly to death. He endured the emotional anguish of mockery from the very people for whom He suffered torture. His best friends and closest disciples betrayed Him, abandoned Him and denied Him. He was broken unto death so that we can look to Him for help and healing. We are broken vessels, “afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” 2 Corinthians 4:8–9 ESV.

We may feel shattered beyond repair, but God sees us restored and made whole through the love, compassion and work of His Son. God takes every ravaged and unrecognizable piece that has suffered the pain of this world and uses them for His glory. “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” 2 Corinthians 4:17 ESV. Our afflictions prepare for us a glory that we cannot see now but will experience for all of eternity.

The artistry and craftsmanship of “golden joinery” creates a unique and rare piece that cannot be duplicated. The one-of-a-kind piece of pottery holds more value and worth than before. This finite and temporal transformation points us to the greater truth that God uses our brokenness to transform us into new creatures eternally. He writes this eternity on our hearts, fills us with His spirit and empowers us to have peace in the midst of our storms. God transforms what was broken into beautiful vessels unlike anything we could have imagined.

We do not look the same after experiencing a pain that wrecks and ruins our lives. Try as we might, pushing the pieces together as close as possible does not erase the damage that has been done. But God transforms us into something better and more beautiful. He seals our cracks and fractures with His love and wisdom, and marks us as worthy. He takes what was ruined and makes us into new creations, more beautiful and more whole than before.

“ ... my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
—Philippians 2:12–13 ESV

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