The Beauty of Brokenness: Nothing Wasted
"Make me broken, so I can be healed..."
“In the middle of our brokenness, when the world is sweeping us up, throwing us into a trash can and sending us to the dump for eternity … God can step in and breathe life back into our souls,” writes Ross Alan Hill in Broken Pieces: Nothing is Wasted.
Hill uses a timeless metaphor of how artist Chris McGahan salvages broken pieces of glass to create a brand new masterpiece - a Redento Raffinato, a stunning blown-glass vase. He compares the process to the way God takes the broken pieces of our lives and makes us into new creatures. “Redento raffinato” is an Italian phrase meaning “redeemed elegance.”
In Broken Pieces, Hill explains how he came to have one of McGahan’s Redento Raffinatos on his desk at Oklahoma City’s Bank2, which he founded in 2002. He relates a number of inspiring stories of how God has used his office, his faith, and a beautiful vase to change lives.
Even though brokenness can, indeed, be transformed into beauty, I’m guessing nobody likes the broken part of that process. It occurs to me that for one who follows Christ, there are three strands to brokenness: We are broken, we will be broken numerous times, and we will be forever redeemed from brokenness by the blood of Christ alone.
We are broken. Yes, we begin life broken, and as we grow old enough to understand the gospel and its application to our lives, we come to realize our brokenness, our need for repentance and turning to God to make us whole. In The Calvary Road, a 1950s classic on Christian faith, Roy Hession writes, “[T]he first thing we must learn is that our wills must be broken to His will.”
We will be broken. While Hill’s metaphor is an apt and stirring illustration of God’s redemptive work in our lives, we still have to admit that we get broken more than once. In fact, as human beings, we’re more fragile than that glass in Hill’s Redento Rafinatto.
But how do we deal with the second strand – being broken again and again? And again. In the song “Keep Making Me,” Sidewalk Prophets’ Dave Frey sings soulfully and prayerfully, “Make me broken / So I can be healed … I want to run to You / With heart wide open / Make me broken.”
Do we really want to pray that prayer? Do we dare ask to be broken? It isn’t a state of being we aspire to, but to ask for brokenness reflects a humility and an honesty that God will honor. Hession says, “Being broken is both God’s work and ours. He brings His pressure to bear, but we have to make the choice.”
We will be forever redeemed from brokenness. Sometimes we may crash into brokenness without warning. We may believe we’ve been blindsided by life’s unfairness or circumstances we can’t control. But we need to keep our spiritual eyes on the truths of God’s Word – we will be redeemed.
Think about Job, who said, “My spirit is broken, my days are extinguished, the grave is ready for me” (Job 17:1, NASB). Yet, one of the suffering servant’s best-known lines is this one: “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.” Even in his broken state, Job clung to his hope in God.
Job’s experience is among countless Old Testament stories that foreshadow the gospel itself. Furthermore, Psalm 34:18 assures us, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
As we sift through our own broken pieces or stand in awe at how God makes us new, it behooves us to remember the greatest brokenness of the gospel – the broken body of our Lord Jesus Christ in His redemptive act to make us whole.
To return to Ross Hill’s story, the banker says he has used his Redento Raffinato, an example of redeemed elegance, to share his faith in Christ with more than 1,600 people who have passed through his office. I think there may be a lesson for all of us here – our brokenness and redemption provide the perfect avenue for sharing our faith.