We all shudder at the sound of something breaking, don’t we? We can’t help but wince when we hear glass or crockery shattering into pieces on the floor.
Why do we have that involuntary reaction? Because we know that the object probably can’t be repaired: it’s likely to be damaged irreparably, and must be thrown away.
We’re wincing at the sound of loss.
But what if there were a way to not only put the pieces back together, but to make the object more beautiful than it was before, despite the breaks?
The Japanese long ago invented a way of doing just that, and have even made an art form of it. It’s called “Kintsugi,” which means “golden joinery.” The process involves mending the cracks in pottery with gold lacquer. Instead of trying to hide the damaged areas, they are instead highlighted with something precious. The end result is a restored piece of pottery that is beautiful at the broken places.
But what happens if it’s not a piece of pottery that is broken, but a life? How can a shattered heart be put back together?
Long ago, God also devised a way to put the pieces of a broken life back together again. God doesn’t throw away broken people; they still have value to Him. He puts them back together again with the gold lacquer of His Son’s love and redemptive power.
A beautiful example of God’s “golden joinery” can be found in the trauma workshops run by partners of Open Doors, a charity which aids Christians persecuted for their faith. During one of the workshops held in Ethiopia, women participated in therapeutic crafts such as Kintsugi. Here’s a comment from Fatuma, who had suffered persecution and discrimination because of her faith in Christ:
“Jesus is able to mend everything! As I mended the broken pieces of the plate, I realized God had picked up all my broken pieces and has healed me! … I know I am not alone and am loved by God and sisters from different parts of the world. This was truly an unforgettable encouragement!” (quotation from Open Doors International: “What Real Love Looks Like”)
One of the names of God in the Old Testament is Jehovah Rapha. Normally translated as Healer, the word Rapha can also mean to restore, repair, make whole or mend. God is an expert at putting broken things back together again. One could say it’s His middle name.
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3 NIV)
Sometimes, the hard knocks we’ve endured can’t be hidden: it’s plain for everyone to see that we’ve gone through some shattering times. But God can even use that for His glory. Rather than disguising the cracks in our lives, God actually highlights them. He doesn’t try to make an invisible repair, but instead illuminates what His Son has done in us and for us. The loving reassembly of the broken pieces of our lives is written in pure gold, leaving the restoration clearly visible to others.
The result is a redeemed life that is more beautiful and resilient than it was before: it’s golden at the broken places.
The Kintsugi method of repairing pottery with gold lacquer is considered an art form in its own right. It has been featured at exhibitions at the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The repaired cracks are seen as something beautiful and artistic, not ugly damage to shy away from. The pottery’s “scars” are now celebrated as an intentional part of the design.
How much more precious and worthy of celebration is a life that has been repaired and restored by the loving and masterly hands of our Heavenly Father!
Give your brokenness to Jesus. Let Him heal you by pouring His molten love, as pure as the finest gold, into the damaged areas of your life.
“When he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10 RSV)
© 2020 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.