Broken on purpose?
Family story: My mom got my dad a mug from the shelf and it had a chip in the lip of it. Mom didn’t want Dad to use it because, without the glaze, she said it would leech whatever’s in the clay into the hot liquid. Dad was going to use it, thinking he’d just drink from the other side. Mom won the argument by taking the cup and dashing it onto the kitchen floor. The ceramic shattered into hundreds of pieces. No one was going to use it for drinking again. Effective argument, if you ask me.
The moral of the story? Other than my family’s a little bit nuts? It’s an example of something that was broken on purpose.
Most times when you break things, it’s not intended. I still feel guilty for fighting with my brother and making him break his toy robot when we were little. We were both tugging on a towel. I let go, he fell and landed on the toy. Totally not intentional (really, Brother!) but still broken. And broken things are generally bad. Useless, even.
So why would anyone break something on purpose? Well, usually it’s to make something else or to fix a problem. I’ve seen mosaic art from broken dishes. Stained-glass makers have to break the glass to assemble a design. Even doctors sometimes have to break a bone to set it properly.
The 51st Psalm is one of my favorites. It’s an awful time in David’s life. He’s committed adultery, plotted to cover it up, ordered a man murdered, and the son that results from that adultery is dying. The song he writes during this time resonates with me for some reason. I guess it would be easy for someone to screw up so badly that he would just give up, never expect reconciliation, but David doesn’t give up. He pleads for mercy. He wants to restore the relationship that he has broken.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
God has a use for our brokenness. I’m not up for arguing whether or not God is the one who breaks us, but I know he uses us when we are broken.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
Even the darkest moment in someone’s life can be a lesson. It’s not easy learning some lessons. Sometimes you have to be broken to be put back together the proper way. It’s not easy being a lesson for someone else, either. But there is a use for broken things. And there is a promise:
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
God doesn’t leave us broken. If we call on him, he will restore us.