I was out repotting some plants the other day and broke one of my clay pots by accident. Though it was disappointing, I threw away the old pottery shards and found a new planting pot to use. As I was cleaning up, I noticed a few of the broken pieces that I had missed in my initial trashing of the broken pot. They were curiously arranged with a curved piece of the shattered pot and two other little chips of the broken pottery looking much like one of those emojis of a face winking at me, and with the some of the fallen dirt above the two pottery pieces that looked like eyes, it looked a little like hair. I laughed and smiled and thought out loud, “How fun, a little joy from the disappointment of my broken pot.”
As I swept up the remaining debris, my mind went to some of the beautiful art I have seen made from broken pieces of glass, pottery and stones. These mosaics are examples of beauty from brokenness. I admire those artists. They don’t see a damaged item as useless or of no value, but they see the potential of strategically placed pieces of ruined goods not as weakness, but strength.
The Apostle Paul had that view of weak and damaged areas of his life. In 2 Corinthians 12:7-11 he describes this broken area of his life as a “thorn in the flesh.” We are not told what this “thorn in the flesh” is. Some have said it was a physical issue with his eyes, or a relationship issue with someone, or an emotional issue dealing with his past since he had people killed who believed in Jesus. Whatever it was, it was troubling, hurtful, distracting, and made him feel weak. Ever have an issue like that?- maybe a physical issue, condition, or sickness? Maybe your thorn is relational – an issue between you and friend, spouse, family member, coworker, boss? The issue can also be emotional- like feeling troubled inside, disconnected, unloved, or like we never measure up.
Paul prayed for his ‘thorn,’ his issue, to be fixed, removed from him. He prayed a lot. But God chose not to remove this thorn, this issue. Instead, God choose to take these broken pieces and make something beautiful, a beautiful picture of God’s grace and an amazing display of godly character. See, Paul knew his potential to be conceited. Paul understood he was powerful, and outside of Jesus, he has been the most prominent person in Christianity. This broken area kept him humble and away from the pitfalls of pride.
2 Corinthians 12:7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.
This blessed thorn was a gift from God keeping Paul humble but also dependent on God’s strength, not his own.
2 Corinthians 12:9 But He (God) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Paul concludes talking about his brokenness by saying, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” In others words, there is beauty in brokenness.
When we come to Him, God has a way of taking the brokenness of our lives and arranging it into something beautiful. The key is to approach Him. Jesus said it this way…
Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
The Apostle Peter encouraged us to…
1 Peter 5:7 casting all your anxieties on Him (Jesus), because He cares for you.
Sure, it will not be easy. Good godly character is built through the crucible of trial and brokenness. Paul had to endure. God will walk with us, and soon we will see the beauty.
Church is a great place not only to be encouraged but to come to Jesus. If you do not already have a church where you attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. Our website has all the information you would need www.cypresschurch.net. We would love for you to join us this Easter season.
Seeking discover the beauty in brokenness along with you,