The ancient Japanese art of kintsugi (“golden joinery”) is the process of repairing pottery using powdered gold or silver mixed with lacquer to glue the broken pieces back together. A cheap, common bowl becomes a masterpiece when mended with gleaming ribbons of precious metal. As you admire such a piece, you are reminded that the beauty comes at a price: being shattered.
Each of us will walk through shattering experiences. No person is immune from the pain of a broken world. In some cases it may be nothing more than disappointment or inconvenience: a rainy vacation, a flat tire at rush hour or a missed birthday party. But those things are light compared to other, shattering pains: the negative diagnosis, the broken marriage and the pressure-filled job. Even now, our world, our nation and families in our local community are experiencing major upheavals during the COVID-19 crisis. When it comes to suffering, no one and no place is exempt.
When times of major struggle come, we often try to shake free and run the other way. Granted, if the pain is avoidable and unhealthy, we do well to move from it, but sometimes in trying to lessen the hurt, we lessen the purpose of the pain and the beauty that could come. After the hard times, we may have all the broken pieces but remain unable to fix things, no matter how hard we might try. Throughout the Bible, we see glints of the meaning promised on the other side of pain.
It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statues (Psalm 119:71).
We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame (Romans 5:3-5).
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison (2 Corinthians 4:17).
The pain we experience is nothing like the pain that Jesus experienced, but at the same time, our pain holds great potential for transformation into his likeness. Like nail prints in his hands, our deepest wounds can bear the greatest weight of glory.
To be mended, you must be broken. To experience a resurrection, something must die first. The cross comes before the empty tomb. Sometimes you can’t push through the struggle; you must push the struggle through yourself. “By his stripes we are healed,” but by our stripes he is glorified (Isaiah 53:5; Acts 5:40-41).
In your pain, take heart. Into our every wound, Jesus pours grace to pull our pieces together and to bind us to himself. With each mending, we see more and more of Christ shining from among the broken bits of fragile clay, and we see less and less of ourselves.
We will trust the promise of Christ to heal our broken hearts, either here in this life, or ultimately when we stand in his presence. – Psalm 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
We would allow brokenness to work humility in our hearts and wait for God to revive us. – Isaiah 57:15 For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.
We will lean upon Christ who, in the midst of our weakness, shows great mercy and kindness to us. – Matthew 12:20 A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory…