We have buried children decades before we expected. We suffer from debilitating diseases. We have listened to descriptions of a bleak prognosis. We are stressed with the burden of caring for aging parents. We are shamed by our perpetual fall into the same sins. We are chased by our godless pasts, pursued by decisions we long to undo. We hurt for those next to us and carry our own aches, often times, silently. We are broken. In a world which idolizes independence, physical beauty and confidence, we are tethered, ugly and beaten down.
We are exactly as He wants us.
That statement may sound harsh, and it has certainly been abused to portray a sadistic god who manipulates people into getting his own way. Yet, through our pain, we still trust in the goodness of God’s plans for us. Not only does He want our good, but His Son promised us abundant life. Even though we may not see the steps He will take to fulfill that promise, we believe it is through His power that we will get there.
The Lord told the apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul continues, “Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me….For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
It doesn’t feel that way, however. When troubles surge as waves above us or our faithlessness looms darkly, the last thing we feel is strong and beautiful.
There is a concept in Japanese aesthetics, which is known as kintsugi. Kintsugi recognizes the potential splendor in things which have been broken and the fragile beauty in objects which have been mended. Powdered gold or platinum is used to fill in the cracks of chipped or shattered receptacles. The stoneware jar, or the ceramic vase, is not beautiful despite its mended state, but because of it. The history of the object is not ignored but becomes an obvious part of the artifact.
God practices this with us, as well. He does not toss us out when we show signs of imperfection. His own beloved Son was weak and cried out to Him with prayers and petitions (Hebrews 5:7). He embraces our damage. God’s grace covers us like the dusting of the golden lacquer seams on a teacup. We have obviously been broken, but we are mended and made beautiful by His grace.
Life is not what it ought to be, but it will one day be what it should.
I have collected a few ways in which we can more readily come to terms with our vulnerability and our mended state.
Feeling broken allows us to appreciate deeply the humanity of Christ. Jesus' full incarnation forced him into positions of weakness and pain, ignorance and powerlessness. He gets it. He is biologically our brother.
Growing more dependent on His grace frees us from the need to rely exclusively on our own skills and talents. In our dependency, God will use us in ways we never imagined possible, which would not be possible if we were stronger.
In our vulnerability, we will find greater value in one another. Our community of believers will mean more to us when we rely on them for strength in our weakness.
Our mended lives will highlight the glory and beauty of Christ in us. In recognizing our weakness, we give God greater glory.
"For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men." 1 Corinthians 1:25
This does not mean that humanity's greatest strength is only the weakest part of God. Paradoxically, rather, God's strength is His weakness. May we be mended for His glory.
April Bumgardner is a mom of three boys, two of whom she currently homeschools. Generally, it seems there are more than three, but she has counted several times, and there really are just the three. She has been married to William since 1996. So far, it’s going fairly well.