Broken

On a couple of occasions over the years, when I have received a package in the mail it rattled.  A rattling sound came from the package that wasn’t supposed to be there.  Nobody needed to tell me what I already knew; whatever was in the package was broken.  The joy of receiving a package in the mail was now replaced by the sad reality of brokenness.  Even though written on the packaging were the words, “fragile: handle with care,” the item was broken.

The popular 80’s songwriter and performer Sting in his song Fragile writes these words:

                                             Lest we forget how fragile we are                                                     On and on the rain will fall
Like tears from a star
Like tears from a star
On and on the rain will say
How fragile we are
How fragile we are

Over the course of my life, one thing I have learned about myself and others is that we are fragile.  That is, we can be broken.  Life has a way of leaving us in pieces at times.  Experiences can shatter life sometimes with a crash, while at other times we quietly realize the cracks in our lives, uncertain of how we received them.  These times of brokenness can leave us depressed, discouraged, and defeated.  When you are standing in a pile of rubble it can be difficult to see what to do next.  It can be overwhelming.

In the scriptures, we read in the book of Psalms, the prayers, cries, and longings of people who feel overwhelmed by life.  They may describe themselves as though they are sinking in mud, laughed at by their adversaries, and even in lost in the depths of the earth.  In Psalm 31: 9-12 we read this prayer:

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
my eye wastes away from grief,
my soul and body also.
For my life is spent with sorrow,
and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my misery,
and my bones waste away.

I am the scorn of all my adversaries,
a horror* to my neighbors,
an object of dread to my acquaintances;
those who see me in the street flee from me.
I have passed out of mind like one who is dead;
I have become like a broken vessel.

There have been times in my life in which I felt like a broken vessel.  My spirit was broken.  Although those around me may have not known, I could hear the rattles within.  Every step I took reminded me of my brokenness.  The hurt and pain were hidden beneath a veneer of happiness for others to see.  On the surface, life looked good.  Beneath the surface, however, I felt like a broken vessel.

Later in Psalm 31: 14-15, the psalmist would confess: “But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, You are my God. My times are in your hand.”  The psalmist would trust God with his brokenness.  How the psalmist arrived at this point I do not know.  All we have is the confession, “my times are in your hand.”  The psalmist somehow found the faith to trust that God could handle his brokenness and even restore his life.  The psalmist would trust that God’s grace would be able to make him whole again.  I’m sure that the psalmist had his doubts at times, as there are no quick fixes for most of life.  But in the hands of God, he knew God could bring forth something new.

I wish we did not live in a broken world.  I wish that I, or the people I love, never felt broken. Yet, I hear the rattling every day.  I pray to have the faith of the psalmist, trusting that God can take broken vessels and bring forth new life.  I pray to trust that my times are in God’s hands.  And if I have to experience brokenness in the world in which I live, are there any better hands to be in?

mending-a-broken-vessel

Published by Dr. Philip W. Turner

Since 1991 I have had the joy of serving as Pastor of Pine Street Baptist Church in the community of Oregon Hill in Richmond, Virginia. The people I have met a long the way have inspired me in my daily ministry. I have truly been blessed.

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