Many years ago, my grandmother gave me a stunning set of glasses and explained to me at the time that they were over a hundred years old. Since then, Grandmother has gone on to be with the Lord and the glasses have held much more meaning because of it. While I have tried to take special care of the glasses, there have been a few painful accidents. Last week while I was cleaning the cupboard out, one of the two only remaining glasses slipped out of my hands and broke into tiny pieces. I was crushed. I stared at the remaining broken glass and decided, maybe, just maybe, I should sip some water out of the last glass. At least I could feel like I had used one of them. I savored the small sip of water, admiring the beautiful detailing in a way that I had never done and carefully placed the heirloom on a high shelf where it was less likely to be broken but more likely to be used—even if I just took a sip of water every year or so.
This really caused me to think about how often and easily we discard things when they’re broken. I’ve also been thinking about how God does the complete opposite if we trust in Him when we’re broken. Just like it took three of my glasses to break before I thought about using the one that was left, I know that many of us are the same way. We may not appreciate and/or use some things until we experience loss. Moreover, we may not be useful for God unless we are broken.
In Matthew 18, the disciples ask Jesus who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus answers, unless “ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3-4). We know that God is not telling us to be childish, but He wants us to humble ourselves and our selfish ways. Matthew 23:11-12 goes on to explain that “he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased: and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” These verses are important to remind ourselves of what our spiritual position should be because our flesh so often resists this.
In fact, I believe that God often allows trials, obstacles, and tribulations in our lives to compel us to let go of our pride and selfishness. Brokenness can be a position of great value and usefulness in the kingdom of God. While the world doesn’t place high value on humility, God considers it to be highly desirable and necessary for His children. God can work through us when we have let go of our own agenda and motives. Often, it is only when we are at our wit’s end, at rock bottom, that we will truly search and hear God’s voice with a willingness to obey.
One of my of my favorite scriptures is John 12:24. Jesus explains, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” Jesus is not only prophesying about how through His death, many will live, but this verse also illustrates the importance of each of us dying to self. Again, when our selfish attitudes and prideful ways are broken, He can use us to serve and draw others to Him.
Jesus says, quoting from Isaiah 61:1, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath appointed me to preach the gospel to the poor: he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4: 18). Through Jesus, we have access to overcome any brokenness, lack, sickness or insufficiency. As we all know, Jesus came to save the lost. He came to heal the sick and brokenhearted. Jesus heals and delivers us, and in turn, we are instructed to become useful, advancing the kingdom of heaven.
God could discard us when we’re broken, much like Jeremiah probably expected the potter to do with the broken pieces of marred clay at the wheel. Instead though, just like Jeremiah witnessed, God reshapes us and remolds us when we are repentant and obedient. We can be used in miraculous ways, no matter what the trial, no matter what the test. If God allows us to be broken, He can use us to bring Him glory. It’s really up to us to decide if we’re willing to go through the process of brokenness to be used by Him.
As we go through this Christmas season, let’s remind those who are sad, lonely, sick, or depressed. God is sovereign, and He has a purpose and plan for allowing their pain. Isaiah 61:3 says that the Lord will give “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”