Cracked and Broken

9:34 AMHeather

Broken. I gotta be honest.  I've endured seasons where I felt so broken that I thought my name was Humpty Dumpty.  None of the king's horses and none of the king's men could ever put me together again.  Certainly, my friends and family couldn't.  And at the worst of the worst of times, it felt as if no one really wanted to try.  I know I'm not alone.  In fact, one dear friend messaged me this weekend.  This is exactly the season she is currently in.  Cracked.  Broken.  In a million shattered pieces.  Unsure of where to go from here.  Feeling as though even God is silent.  Not just the king's horses or men.  But the King himself can't put her together again.

I am forgotten as though I were dead;
    I have become like broken pottery.
Psalm 31:12 

Like the psalmist David, I know that feeling.  I've faced that despair.  Broken and cracked by loss and grief.  Shattered by circumstances.  

To speak to the brokenness in each of us, I have a word of encouragement to share today.  It addresses every one of us who ever feel we are cracked and beyond repair. I am praying as I write this.  That God uses me as His instrument to give you the Word you need today.

I just finished the study of Gideon by Priscilla Shirer.  The older I get, the more I realize how much I don't know.  About the Bible.  About God.  About life.  There was much I didn't know about Gideon.  Vaguely, I could call up some facts about a fleece and prayer, a small army versus a huge army, and weapons that weren't really weapons. 

Those weapons were, as I now know, trumpets and jars with torches inside.  Oh, yeah.  Weapons of mass destruction, right?  So, those 300 men that God had whittled the Israeli army down to surrounded the camp of the tens of thousands of Midianites with only these weapons at their disposal.  

Are you feeling outnumbered by all you're facing?  You are in historically good company, my bloggy friend.

Here was the strategy.  The small band of 300 surrounded the Midianite camp.  At the opportune time--not a moment too soon or too late--but at the beginning of the middle watch of the night, they were going to make their move.  This was critical timing.  It was the darkest part of the night.  The guards had just changed shifts.  The enemy was most vulnerable.  And on Gideon's signal, the men blew their trumpets and smashed their jars.  Revealing the torches inside.  The jars were inexpensive and easily broken.  They didn't hold that much value in and of themselves.  But, when broken and shattered, the bright and sudden light surprised the enemy.  And fooled them into thinking the Israelites were large in number.  Confusion set in, and the Midianites literally turned on each other with their swords.

The key to the victory lay in the perfect timing of the breaking of the jars.  The ability to be shattered was what made them work for victory to be seized.  Only when cracked could the light pour out, blinding the enemy.  Becoming effective.  In the darkest part of the night, victory came. Priscilla Shirer writes:

"The pitcher's fraility benefited their ultimate purpose--allowing the light to be seen.  Each vessel's true strength was displayed when it was cracked open and the light inside pierced the darkness to shock and blind the enemy...the weaknesses we often despise are required for the light of Christ to be seen and for the darkness around us to be dispelled." 

The cracks made all the difference.  The brokenness made way for victory.  The usefulness was found in the shattering. Even when things were darkest.  Especially when things were darkest.

Let me tell you, THIS is exactly my testimony.  THIS so eloquently articulates my life's journey.  Oh, it didn't feel victorious at the cracking.  The shattering didn't feel useful.  It felt hard.  And painful.  And it led to despair.  

But, even over this past weekend, as this sweet friend honored me with her vulnerability, I saw the usefulness.  I felt the victory.  I knew my own broken journey was what made a difference.  Because she is walking the road I walked.  And I could allow the Lord to redeem my painful brokenness to shed light on her dark path.  I could say, "I've been there.  I've survived.  You will, too."  I could live out the truth of 2 Corinthians 1: 3-7:

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.  

It is there, sharing in the brokenness of others, that my own brokenness finds victory.  That my own cracks find usefulness.  Oh, God could have left me intact.  But, I wouldn't be very useful.  My ability to comfort and love and sympathize would be so much less than they are because of my own shattering.  We live in a broken world.  We are broken people.  We get cracked and broken.  What we do with that fact makes all the difference.  

We can stand on a hillside, surrounding those in need, and allow our cracks to be put to use.  We can let His light shine through them.  We can allow Him to redeem our broken places as we let Him use them for His good.  Even if the enemy intended it to harm us.  

The picture of those 300, surely frightened men, standing around a camp of the enemy that greatly outnumbers them, encourages me.  In my mind's eye, I see the sweat on their brow.  Feel their heart beating rapidly.  Know they must have been fighting their fear as they stood in faith.  And their victory came only when the brokenness was allowed.  And light spilled forth.  

Listen, bloggy friends, I know many of you are shattered.  Your lives are in pieces.  You face a huge enemy.  You feel surrounded.  Victory is the farthest thing from your mind.  You are in survival mode.  And it's too much to bear.  

Indeed it is.  But you aren't alone.  God intends to bring victory through your suffering.  He longs to bring usefulness from your seasons of tears.  And He will.  I guarantee it.  He wants us to be all that we are cracked up to be...according to His loving plan for our ultimate good.  For our future.  For His victory.  He wants us to see the treasure we are, broken as we may be, because of the light of His grace.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
2 Corinthians 4:6-9 

Hard pressed.  Perplexed.  Persecuted.  Struck down.  God can work with that.  God can work through that.  It's his specialty.  I'm praying for you today.  That you get a glimpse of His light beaming through your brokenness. 

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