My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
A few weeks ago a friend posted this image of one of her baking pans that had been dropped on the floor a few days earlier. It was really disappointing because she really liked it and had used it regularly for years.
As she collected the broken pieces, she took a look at them before throwing them out. A thought came to her. She realized that in the past she had never been able to use it in her toaster oven because the muffin pan was too big. She always had to use her large oven, even if she only needed to bake a few muffins.
The lesson was this: Surprisingly, the newly broken pan was going to prove to be more usable than ever before. Now it could fit into multiple places, and it could be used for smaller numbers as well as larger ones. Initially she had thought was that there was no more usefulness when it shattered. Now, my friend noticed that new things were possible- precisely because of the brokenness. She immediately started using it in new ways.
This is a hard lesson to grasp, and one that we must learn to receive time after time throughout our lives. The pain we experience as a result of the brokenness of life will open new doors if we allow it. New doors of empathy, of growth, of compassion, of maturity. There will be spaces in the lives of others that we could not previously fit into until we are broken. But now we can sit in that space, understanding and walking alongside. We may also find that when our own capacity feels more limited, it is in these moments that we become more available to the supernatural strength and power of the Spirit of Christ that Jesus has breathed into us.
Sometimes the more capable I am, the less trust is required, and the less of God I grasp.
But the less capable I am, the more I identify as poor in spirit, and the more available I am to be blessed and used by God.
So let’s follow the arguments that the Apostle Paul responded to in his ministry:
Does that mean that we should seek after brokenness so that we can be closer to God as a result? Should we try to go through pain and heartache and even sin so that we can say, look how much God is growing me afterwards!
Obviously not, friends.
Brokenness is one of the things in life that we don’t need to seek after. It will come. We will get dropped on the floor and fall to pieces. That’s the reality of a broken world and real people with real choices to choose right or wrong.
What we can do, though, is decide if our broken pieces should simply be thrown away. We will decide the level of our worth as we take stock of the shattered pan on the ground.
Will we hear the words of Jesus as we do?
Even the very hairs on your head are numbered.
Then neither do I condemn you.
Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people.
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness...
My friend decided not to throw away her pan. She decided to keep owning it. To keep using it. To even see new value that wasn’t there before. What a beautiful image.
Our pain will either make us more sensitive or more calloused.
Our frustration will make us more compassionate or more harsh.
Our losses will create empathy or bitterness.
Our failures will fill us with grace toward others, or convince us we are no longer useful.
Those possibilities will be determined based on one thing, and one thing alone:
Will we invite Jesus to transform our broken lives?
If we allow God’s grace and love to enter into all the areas in our lives that are not what we wished they were… then we will become people who overflow with love and humility and gentleness. The world will be drawn to us… and drawn to Jesus in the process.
Our brokenness will no longer be a liability. It will indeed be the reason that God can work through us. What kind of a God is this, who chooses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and the weak things of the world to shame the strong!? (1 Cor 1:27).
It’s ok to sit back in wonder at all of that today. Amazing grace.
Jesus, take what feels broken in me today and use it for good. I trust you.