“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3)
The other day I found my favorite coffee mug buried in the back of the cabinet and broken on one side. I broke it several months ago when I was in a hurry and threw in a bag to carry home from work. I heard it break when it hit something else hard that was in there and my heart sank. It was a beautiful, expensive, hand-made local pottery hand-warmer mug that I had splurged on and used every morning until it broke.
Broken things are common in my household. If certain broken pieces are able to be fixed, they normally find a temporary home on the shelf, like my mug, waiting for super glue repairs. Or maybe just tossed out if unable to be neatly pieced back together and strategically repaired without a patchwork of super glue lines. Often, it takes too much work to fix what is broken. Sometimes it’s easier to just buy a new one.
Ever feel that way? Broken. Shattered. Set on a shelf. Tossed aside. Or thrown away. It takes too much work to try to restore. “Just get a new one,” the mindset of our culture whispers to us. “Don’t let anyone see the broken flaws.” Such reality in the way we often live in this world.
With our broken families…
our Broken marriages…
our Broken finances…
our Broken relationships…
our Broken dreams…
Since the 16th century, the Japanese have made an art out of restoring broken things. An ancient practice called Kintsugi or Kintsukuroi, meaning “to repair with gold”, and understanding that breakage and repair is part of the history of the object, making it more beautiful with it’s imperfection. It is an age-old custom of repairing cracked pottery with real gold, not only fixing the break, but greatly increasing the value of the piece.
Turning what is broken into beautiful, cherished pieces, by sealing the cracks and crevices with lines of fine gold. Instead of hiding the flaws, Kintsukuroi artists highlight them, creating a whole new design and bringing unique beauty to the original piece. The pottery actually becomes more beautiful and valuable in the restoration process because, though it was once broken, it not only has history, but a new story. One artist described it this way:
“The piece of pottery became more beautiful for having been broken. The true life of the bowl began the moment it was dropped. The proof of its fragility and its resilience is what makes it beautiful.”
While most normal repairs of broken things hide themselves, like nicely sealed super glue fixes, the usual intent is simply to make something “as good as new.” Yet the art of Kintsukuroi reinforces a profound belief that the repair can make things not only as good as they were before, but “better than new.”
Better than new. Soak that in for a moment.
There are lies that swirl around in your mind and whisper to your deepest soul in weak moments – when you’ve lost your grip, and things come crashing down. You feel the need to hide the scars. You feel like the brokenness has rendered you useless in life, that no one will ever want you. You feel beyond repair at times. You feel tossed aside. Forgotten. Shamed. Rejected. You sit on a shelf, feeling stuck.
Yet God breaks through all that mess. You are never beyond healing. You are never too broken for restoration. You are never too shattered for repair. Do not be ashamed of your scars, of the deep crevices that line your soul, or the broken places of your life. They have an amazing story to tell.
Here is truth: Just because you’ve been broken doesn’t mean that you are thrown away. Just because you’ve been broken doesn’t mean that you are un-usable. Just because you’ve been broken doesn’t mean that you are forgotten. In fact God wants us when we are broken; it’s a perfect time for us to see who God is.
David wrote about this in the Psalms; “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and contrite heart, O God.” ~Psalms 51:17 and “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” ~ Psalms 34:18
There is power in brokenness, unlike anything else, to bring forth new beauty, strength, and inspiration to others. Because it’s often in those moments when we’ve tasted deep suffering, that we realize – we were made for more. There’s better. There’s purpose.
It is in our brokenness before God that His glory is able to shine through us as He mends and restores us. The apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:
“We have this treasure from God, but we are only like clay jars that hold the treasure. This is to show that the amazing power we have is from God, not from us. We have troubles all around us, but we are not defeated. We often don’t know what to do, but we don’t give up. We are persecuted, but God does not leave us. We are hurt sometimes, but we are not destroyed.
So we do not lose heart. Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. Our suffering is light and temporary and is producing for us an eternal glory that is greater than anything we can imagine. We don’t look for things that can be seen but for things that can’t be seen. Things that can be seen are only temporary. But things that can’t be seen last forever.”
The scars of life, the healed wounds, the deep lines, they all have stories to tell. The cracks in our lives allow God’s glory to be seen by others. Yet often we try to hide them, preferring instead to present to the world, a safe façade of who we are, a more “perfect” version of ourselves. It’s too difficult to risk the real vulnerability of exposing what once was, or what still is.
We have a Healer, One who repairs and can fit the broken pieces that no longer seem to fit properly into a perfect design. He works, often behind the scenes, mending, fitting together, creating a better work of art – more than we ever dreamed possible. He makes all things beautiful (Ecc.3:11), especially the broken pieces of our lives, all by His grace. It is real life – jagged edges and all – that has so much meaning.
And that is what the story of Jesus is really all about – bringing life to what was broken. He was willing to take on the brokenness of the world in exchange for our freedom. Beautiful, Savior. Jesus. He sets us free. He makes all things new. He redeems our life. What Lavish love!
May you, in times of hurt and brokenness, find the courage to be vulnerable before God – brave enough to give Him all of the broken pieces of your life. It is there, in the skillful Hands of the Creator – the Master Artist, that your true life will begin, and it will be more beautiful than you could ever imagine! God longs to restore your life and make it beautiful. He’s already made a way. No matter how much you’ve messed up or how broken you are – He waits for you.
“I will give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.” Isaiah 61:3