“The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” Psalm 34:18

It was shattered- broken pieces everywhere. There it was; the mocha colored glass that used to complete the center of our patio table was now lying in innumerable shards in front of me.

Ever since I was a little girl, I have always hated the idea of brokeness. I remember getting angry once and slamming down my Strawberry Shortcake hand mirror. As soon as it cracked, I felt a pit of regret in my stomach. “Well, that was stupid. I loved that mirror. Now I can never get it back.” Then and there my little six-year old heart determined to never break anything ever again! But even with the best intentions and determination, life happens, doesn’t it?

And so it did once again. The umbrella we had placed in the center of that glass was left up while we were gone. Along came some wind, and that sheet of glass didn’t stand a chance.

But a funny thing happened as I knelt there, sweeping up piles of glass. I couldn’t take my eyes off those shimmering pieces. While I should’ve been frustrated, instead I kept being slightly awe-struck by the beauty in that mess. I had never thought much about that glass. It was kind of just there- nothing that caught my eye. But now each piece was like it’s own beautifully illuminated masterpiece with unique angles different from the next. The sunbeams were passing through it in a spectrum of sparkle. I couldn’t stop admiring and appreciating it.

Then it occurred to me that such it is with us. It’s in our moments of brokenness that suddenly the Light of the world finds new angles to highlight Who He is and what He can do.

The word “contrite” in this passage from Psalms means “crushed” or “broken into very small pieces.” Can you relate?

  • When we receive that devastating test result from the doctor or that splintered
    relationship just rips our heart to shreds…
  • As the judge’s ruling or yet another rejection letter smashes our hopes into little bits…
  • In that moment of betrayal or cruel and unnecessary criticism, or those days of
    inexplicable loneliness…
  • When our prayers seem to be hitting the ceiling and our faith begins to crack…
  • When we have failed yet again and are so crushed that we can’t imagine ever seeing victory…
  • When we just don’t know what to do and we have tried everything in our power to
    resolve a situation and now our plans lay in fragmented pieces at our feet…
  • It’s in these painful moments that the Light can make our broken pieces sparkle.

    But therein lies our decision. You see, those broken pieces were disappointingly unextraordinary without the sun gleaming through them. It wasn’t the brokenness that made them beautiful; it was what the streams of light could do through the broken pieces that made all the difference.

    If I, in my broken moments just hurt and get through it, then all I will end up with are a pile dark, razor-sharp pieces that are only liable to cause more pain in the future. However, as a child of God, if I turn to Him in my brokenness, if I seek His will; if I praise and trust Him even as the painful cracks begin creeping across my story, that is when everything changes. That is when I can find beauty in brokenness. It’s in these times that we will experience attributes of Him that we have never seen before: His goodness, His comfort, His peace, His provision, His justice, His plan that goes far beyond our limited vision. We’ll see that He really is Who He says He is. It’s in this broken, surrendered life that those around us will see something that they did not expect, something unlike the somber shards they’ve seen before.

    “I cried to thee, O LORD, and unto the LORD I made supplication. What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? Shall it declare thy truth? Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper. Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou has put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness: To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and no be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.” Psalm 20:8-12

    I’m still a little dumbfounded. I’ve never experienced anything like this, but the piles of glass were so beautiful I was almost glad the piece had broken. The next time I experience disappointment, pain, or some kind of suffering, I want to remember this moment. I want to remember that it does not have to be wasted. There can be beauty in brokenness.