It never ceases to amaze me how God transforms things that seem to be leftovers into something magnificent. The leader of my women’s retreat showed us the best visual of this I’ve ever seen.
She started with the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000. First, He asked His disciples to find food for what would have been over 20,000 people with women and children. The disciples looked at Jesus like He was crazy. Where were they going to find seven months worth of wages to buy that much food?
But Jesus insisted they feed the people. He knew they were tired and hungry. Jesus desired to meet their felt needs. So, Andrew brought a young lad with his humble lunch of five loaves of bread and two small fish to feed five thousand people. He brought what he had.
Jesus took the bread and fish and blessed them. Then Jesus broke the loaves and fish. From that, Jesus fed all the people. Not only did everyone have enough, Jesus sent His disciples to pick up the leftovers. Twelve full baskets remained.
Jesus doesn’t waste the broken parts. Actually, Jesus loves those best. It is because the bread was broken that He was able to feed so many. Had it stayed five solid loaves, there wouldn’t have been enough to go around.
The leader shared about how sometimes in life we feel broken. Life comes at us unexpectedly and then,
She threw a plate on the floor and the sound echoed throughout the room. We sat there shocked, unsure what had happened. She explained how when live gets hard, it’s like we are shattered. Broken shards are everywhere. She picked up the parts from the floor, and noted how we try to gather the pieces we find and move along with what remains.
But then life hits again.
She hurled the pieces down again, resulting in more broken bits. Then she described how sometimes life is relentless and continues to wail on us. She pummeled that plate to smithereens with a wrench. I could feel the loud beating in my chest.
I tried to watch, but tears streamed down my face. I felt like I was witnessing my life from last year. My bad week last April was the first real crash. Dreams shattered, and I was left stunned. But I picked up the pieces and marched forward, trying to make do.
Then things fell apart again, and the fall was worse. Before I saw her example, the way I described it was that I felt like a piñata that had once been colorful, holding sweet things inside. Then I’d been repeatedly bludgeoned with a baseball bat until all that remained was a tattered and empty shell. I hurt.
But God began to gather my pain and reconfigure it the same way the leader began to form those bits of plate into something on the floor. She was making a mosaic from the fragments that never could have formed had the plate not broken. God loves broken people because He knows that is all of us.
Psalm 34:18 says “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.” (NKJV)
When the mosaic was completed, it formed the word glory. When we let Him, God takes all our hurt, all our suffering, our pain, and shame, and reworks it into something beautiful for His glory. He wants to build His kingdom through our lives. He knows what to do with the leftovers that result from the hardship of living in a fallen world. God doesn’t waste our pain.
God is doing that in my life now. This time last year, I was in a lot of pain. I never imagined God would have me blog and podcast. He is giving me new dreams to replace the ones that died. Not that my original dreams were bad, they were just too small. God has better ways to expand my borders to reach more people for His glory. I just had to be broken first. God is teaching me not to resist when I’m broken, but to get excited. Because God loves to use the broken shards from our jars of clay and transform them for His glory.
Have you ever gone through a rough time and felt broken?
What is something good God brought in your life from pain or loss?
Joanna Eccles has led Bible studies for over ten years and completed the year-long C. S. Lewis Fellows Program. She is passionate about discipleship and helping people know God better. Joanna enjoys coffee, traveling, and reading, and currently lives in Virginia.