How Have You Seen God Rework Brokenness Into Beauty?

(Carson Weitnauer) #1

Hi friends,

In a recent Slice of Infinity article, “Slain and Standing”, Jill Carattini writes about the Japanese art of kintsugi:

When the reigning fifteenth century Japanese shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa broke his favorite Chinese tea bowl, the distraught military dictator sent the antique pieces of pottery back to China to be repaired. The bowl was returned to him, repaired using a technique commonly practiced at the time. Metal staples fused the pieces together in a manner that assured the beloved bowl’s function, but the bowl was never the same. In Yoshimasa’s mind, the object was broken first by the fracture and then again by the mending. Disappointed, he called Japanese craftsmen to come up with another way.

What was born was the art of kintsugi, which expresses the Japanese aesthetic philosophy of wabi-sabi, embracing the flawed and imperfect, revealing beauty and strength in what has been broken. Kintsugi literally means golden connection or golden jointing . Broken pottery fragments are fused together using lacquer and gold. The end result is still repair in the deepest sense, but the breakage itself is not erased; in fact, it becomes all the more obvious. Rather than concealing the flaws, cracks are accentuated and highlighted. The repair remains the object of admiration, but the breakage is seen as a part of it, bestowing more value, emboldening strength, esteeming beauty.

She goes on to process how we often skip over the crucifixion to celebrate the resurrection. Yet,

In the Revelation of John, John sees the connection between the cross and the resurrection quite distinctively. “Then I saw… a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne” (Revelation 5:6)…But think of it: how on earth does a slain lamb stand? And how is a slain and standing lamb somehow more worthy, more beautiful, more powerful and thriving?

The death of Jesus of Nazareth, the shattered life of the Son of God, is not covered up by the reparative work of Easter. He is both slain and standing—offering us both realities and their immense beauty in one person, in one crucified and risen Lord. This is his body: a lamb irreparably broken by his obedience even unto death on a cross, the Son of God standing, offering us a meal and asking us to consider it. Powerfully, mysteriously, impossibly, Jesus is both wounded and whole, scarred and sacred—broken and given for you.

Every time we celebrate communion, we have the opportunity to remember the broken body of Jesus that heals our own wounds. It is fascinating that this practice, intended for our regular participation, draws us back to these realities of our slain Savior, our own wounds, and the restoration of our lives.

Which leads me to a simple question: how have you seen God apply kintsugi to your own life? How has he artfully taken the broken parts of your lives and made them beautiful? I think this is an area where we can all share our testimony in a humble way with those we know and love the best.

(R.Tim Nolin) #2

In answer to this question I immediately think of Joni Erickson Tada, Joseph in the OT and Ravi Zacharias. I know there are many more, however just with these three there is exemplified incredible beauty that touched the lives of hundreds and thousands that resulted from a brokenness that occurred in their lives, Joni as a quadriplegic, Joseph sold into slavery and forcefully separated from family, and Ravi after an attempted suicide because of despair. Rewind the video of life and start again and what would be the result if the brokenness had not occurred? Just like the life of George Bailey the alternative reality may not be as incredible as the actual one.

(SeanO) #3

@CarsonWeitnauer kintsugi reminds me profoundly of the apostle Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

They broke Jesus’ body on the cross - but in the unseen realms Jesus had the victory. Paul’s body was torn and bruised and broken - but his spirit was filled with the life of Christ.

Honestly, I could not say that I understand how or if God has used the suffering in my life for the sake of sanctification - sometimes it just feels like pain and I do not understand it. But this I know - that in this world I will suffer, but Christ has conquered the world! The sufferings of this world are nothing compared to the glory that will be revealed to us who are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus!

(Carson Weitnauer) #4

Your remarks reminded me of something I heard recently from Beth Moore:

We have been very proud of the fact that we have not subscribed to a prosperity gospel. But what we have subscribed to is a pampered gospel where we are so afraid of suffering and we are so afraid someone is going to criticize us and hurt our feelings. This is the Gospel work of Jesus Christ and we are going with Him. Whatever it takes, no matter how unpopular it is. He was hated. We have to have thicker skin than that."

If I am only willing to obey Jesus as long as I am also comfortable, that’s a pretty radical stopping point in my discipleship.

(SeanO) #5

@CarsonWeitnauer I would go further and say that if we are not willing to obey Jesus when it is uncomfortable that is not discipleship at all. However, I think that sometimes people do not leave their comfort not because they are unwilling, but because they are confused as to how to walk it out - and that is where having a godly mentor would be very helpful.

I think part of helping people to step out is helping them understand what Lewis puts so eloquently - that when we seek comfort in the near term the long term consequences are hopelessness, but when we suffer in the near term we may find hope in the end. We must keep our eyes on the end of the journey rather than the current look of the road.

C. S. Lewis - If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.