9 Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress;
my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
my soul and body with grief.
10 My life is consumed by anguish
and my years by groaning;
my strength fails because of my affliction,
and my bones grow weak.
11 Because of all my enemies,
I am the utter contempt of my neighbors
and an object of dread to my closest friends—
those who see me on the street flee from me.
12 I am forgotten as though I were dead;
I have become like broken pottery.
13 For I hear many whispering,
“Terror on every side!”
They conspire against me
and plot to take my life.
14 But I trust in you,Ω Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in your hands;
deliver me from the hands of my enemies,
from those who pursue me.
16 Let your face shine on your servant;
save me in your unfailing love.
In our churches, next week is the biggest week of the year. I know this not only from working in a church, but I live in the Bible belt, so daily I receive postcards from the bigger local churches detailing the events of next week. There are Palm Sunday processionals to plan, Easter egg hunts to organize, concert events, Holy Thursdays, Holy Fridays, Holy Saturdays, and multiple Easter Evening and Easter Day services, offered in every style of worship imaginable. No lie, one church in my community is offering “Drive by Prayer,” just in case your life is a bit busy and you just have time for the drive thru version of Holy Week. How busy are you in preparation for the big week?
This week, however, is quite a bit quieter. Psalm 31:12-13 says, “I am forgotten as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery. For I hear many whispering, ‘Terror on every side!’ They conspire against me and plot to take my life.” Do you suppose this text, likely written by David hundreds of years earlier, was in the back of Jesus’ mind on the Thursday before the original Holy Week? I imagine there was a great sense of dread and foreboding, a feeling of loneliness and brokenness before turning toward the crowded Passover events.
A broken vessel becomes useless, no longer able to hold water, too broken to be useful. Do you ever feel like broken pottery? Working for a church, I often feel this pressure to seem like I have myself all together, but the truth is, I often feel like I too am too broken to be useful. Painful relationships, betrayal, failures, deep hurts and losses…what has broken you in your life? Do you try to hide your imperfections?
What unites us, however, is our common brokenness. I recently learned of the art of kintsukuroi, the art of repairing broken pottery with gold or silver lacquer. As a result of the process, the broken pottery is even more beautiful for having been broken. I love this idea of making something beautiful out of something broken. The scars and cracks of brokenness tell the story of healing, and this is exactly the story an imperfect world needs to hear. In the same way, I believe God can use our brokenness and make us even more beautiful. As the example of Easter shows us, we have a God that can turn the deepest pain into a wellspring of beautiful hope.
As we move quickly to the events of next week in the life of the church, I pray that you have a quiet moment of reflection to pause and thank God for the ways in which you have been broken. May the God of hope heal your brokenness and transform you into something more beautiful. May the story of your transformation bring hope to others.