THE BEAUTY IN BROKENNESS
Growing up, I had a troublesome relationship with fragile objects. If Brittany was around rest assured something would be spilled, splattered...in some way destroyed. So it made sense that as a child I didn’t identify very well with broken things. And that mindset continued on into my adult life.
When I was a kid fragility was seen in spilled ice cream cones, broken dishes, wrecked toys, scrapes and bruises, time outs. And I can’t help but think that fundamentally, we move through much of our adult lives with a similar idea; brokenness is bad, fragility is weak, and both happen when we aren’t careful. But if we look at these words through a spiritual lense, it changes the whole perspective. The Bible speaks about the beauty of brokenness, in fact, the spiritual efficacy of it.
The Bible speaks about the beauty of brokenness and fragility,
in fact, the spiritual efficacy of them.
In 2 Corinthians 4:7-10, Paul speaks some of the most notable and well-known words in the new testament. It’s a powerful and reassuring message to the church of Corinth, but first it begins with an acknowledgement that sets the tone and the context of the verse.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.”
Paul describes us, Christians, as jars of clay. In biblical times these jars were like the modern day grocery bag. It does an alright job of holding lighter items but sooner or later those little handles are going to break or the bottom is going to give out. Jars of clay were weak, they were fragile, they were, not in themselves, very reliable.
But the fact that we will break should not be our focus. our hearts and
minds must be focused on what comes spilling out of our broken vessels.
So why would Paul compare us to this? When jars of clay are “hard pressed” on every side they shatter, when they are “struck down” they break. Paul is trying to help us understand, that contrary to cultural opinion, it is not our fragility that destroys us, nor our brokenness that crushes us. Instead, this is how we come to understand that our power, our control, our composure is fleeting and frail. We WILL experience brokenness, confusion, injustice, and we will fall. But the fact that we will break should not be our focus. Our hearts and minds must be focused on what comes spilling out of our broken vessels. We have to remember that regardless of our sinful nature, when we accept Christ, He fills us with Himself, with the treasure of Truth. So even though we are far from perfect, we have Christ within us and it is our job to make Him the most potent filling in our life. Because when this happens, our inevitable brokenness, releases the love, faithfulness, peace, gentleness, kindness, that is Christ. All of this makes our fragility, and the acknowledgement of it, our most powerful weapon.
“But He said to me, my grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness. So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses in insults in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
The devil will try to convince us that broken things are bad things, that fragile things are weak things, and that these things together make up the worst part of who we are. But the devil is a liar. The enemy says, you are too broken, too weak, too fragile, too soft. And now, instead of trying to prove him wrong, I respond with the truth he already knows. I am fragile, I am broken, and in all this I serve a Savior who covers it all. Whose sovereignty wraps its loving arms around my fragility, offering me the strength, the fortitude, the power, I’d never have alone.