“…I have become like broken pottery.”
Psalm 31:12 (NIV)
Giant tears welled in my eyes and spilled onto the crisp pages of my Bible as I read the verse above in my early morning quiet time. Those six words resonated deep within my soul and flooded my broken heart as I envisioned myself like a broken clay vessel, shattered and useless for its intended purpose. The psalmist is describing himself in a time of extreme anguish and despair, the same way I was feeling at the moment I read those powerful words.
How did I “become” like broken pottery? Financial crisis, marital strife, parenting issues, illness, and the death of my beloved father-in-law brought me to the point where I felt as though I had been dropped from the edge of a cliff and shattered on jagged rocks below. You see I can’t point my finger to any one of those major difficulties as being the final blow to my clay vessel. However, all combined, they had taken a toll on my life and its usefulness to my heavenly Father.
We all feel a sense of brokenness at different times in our lives. During a period of illness or disease, we experience a form of physical brokenness. When my body is not functioning at 100% capacity, I feel frustrated and worthless. I normally go full speed ahead, managing my marriage, my three sons, our home, and my part-time job with ease. But when I’m debilitated due to sickness, I become discouraged, feeling defeated and nonproductive. I become discouraged that I’m unable to keep our lives and calendars running smoothly. In essence, I’m rendered ineffective in my daily walk of ministry in my home to my husband and sons.
Brokenness also occurs during a season of heartache and anguish. This can occur during a period of sadness over the loss of a loved one. Mourning can be debilitating and consume us to the point that we can only focus on our loss, leaving room for nothing more. Struggles or failures in a relationship or marriage can also lead to a feeling of heart break, leaving us emotionally wounded and dysfunctional. At times we are heartbroken for our children. Perhaps they have strayed off the path, and we are sad and bewildered about their misguided direction. Or perhaps they are being bullied, harassed or ostracized by their peers, and we feel angst over their torment. While there are many different sources for heartbreak in our lives, they all produce the same type of outcome, causing us to become broken and limited in our usefulness and productivity.
We feel a sense of mental brokenness during times of extreme stress. Financial worries or job security can burden us to the point that we shut down. The loss of a job or the downturn of the economy can bring us to a point where we don’t know where to turn for our next paycheck. Debt can be overwhelming and worrying about paying the stack of bills on your kitchen counter can bring your life to a halt. When every trip to the mailbox or every ring of the phone brings a sense of dread, our thoughts are consumed with one focus…what we don’t have in our bank account. We are useless in all other areas of our lives.
Thankfully, we know a Savior who can take the broken pieces of our lives and transform them into malleable clay, reshaping us into useful vessels once again, with His grand and glorious purpose in mind. He can shine the grace of His warm, healing presence into our being and mend the broken areas of our heart, mind, body and soul. He alone can transform, renew and refresh us. In reality, we are more receptive to our Lord when we are in a state of brokenness because He can mold us in areas where we might have been resistant before. At those times we let go of the pride that falsely binds our lives together, and we realize that we can’t repair our broken lives on our own. We must look to God for His merciful healing.
Cry out to your Heavenly Father, asking Him to pick up the shattered pieces of your life and place all your cares in the palms of the Master Craftsman. Allow the compassionate hands of the Almighty Potter to heal your brokenness and shape your life into a beautiful vessel, useful and glorifying to Him.
Isaiah 64:8 (New International Version)
8 Yet, O LORD, you are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Dear Heavenly Father, Yes, I am the work of your hands. Heal the broken areas of my vessel, and transform me into a beautiful form of pottery, effective and useful for your purposes. May the ministry of my life bring glory to you always.
In the precious name of Jesus (your Son who was broken for me) I pray, Amen.