A few weeks ago I talked about the different realms of worship I found myself in around Easter. One of them was a Seder meal on campus that was facilitated by a local Rabbi. We learned about all the symbolism in the meal and followed the service from a book called the Haggadah.
In the section from the Haggadah that referenced the tablets that Moses brought down from Mt. Sinai, the Rabbi told us this: Someone once asked him what happened to the original tablets that Moses brought down, the ones he broke when he saw the golden calf. He told them the Jewish tradition holds that the broken tablets were also put in the tabernacle with the ones that were intact. The symbolism of this showed that there is sanctity in brokenness.
Not long after that, the pastor at my church also talked about brokenness. I really like this pastor because he is full of humility and faith in his own brokenness. He has been honest with us about dealing with depression and I really admire him for that. I don’t actually remember what the sermon topic was, but he pointed us to 2 Corinthians 4: 5-6, which says,
For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
He had a rather large clay pot on stage with him and told us the story of how he brought it back with him from Africa, but it arrived in tiny pieces. He loved it so much that he took glue and put it all back together. It isn’t perfect, you could tell when he held it up to us. “But,” he said, “the holes are where the light shines through.”
I’ve recently gone through a period of brokenness and I without a doubt believe God has been speaking to me through these experiences. It’s a hard juxtaposition to live in against our culture, living in brokenness. I think the irony, though, is none of us are ever living without brokenness. We just hide it, or numb it, or ignore it.
I’ve written before about my preference for melancholy, to be okay stewing in one’s own filth every now and then. It’s humbling and disintegrates pride.
But. It’s hard. It hurts. It sucks.
Thankfully, God knows this. Whenever something happens that shakes me to the core, the first thing I always think is, “God knew this was going to happen.” That’s comforting to me. And whether or not you believe that God causes suffering, you can bet that He can handle any emotion you throw at Him once the sh*t hits the fan. He’s also set up relationship in a way that we can count on each other in brokenness. Bonds are made and strengthened. Hugs are increased. Intention emerges. And in a clever design, God gave us this common denominator so that those of us who are the broken ones can heal and then relate to the next broken person – sometimes before we are even fully healed, which is something that happened to me. Empathy at it’s most potent level, adding a sweetness to help with the sting.
When I was at Bowling Green I attended a small church and I honestly don’t remember much about it. But I do remember a series of sermons where the pastor kept bringing back this giant orange that he had put 4 or 5 arrows through. He talked about the holes that are left over after we’ve been wounded, and how important it is that we fill those holes with the right things so that we can heal.
He also talked about being that light in the darkness. He used an illustration I’ve never forgotten. We all got glow-in-the-dark stars that day in church. He said that we are the stars, but how do you get glow-in-the-dark stars to really shine? You need to expose them to a powerful light source for an extended period of time. Then you will shine all the brighter to others.
In brokenness we cling to Him, that powerful light source. And he heals us and shines through us.
We all put up walls, fill in the holes, hide. Perhaps in brokenness, when we’re a little cracked, others may see the light shine through the darkness.