Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise. (Jeremiah 17:14)
When we were little, my brother had a friend who lived nearby that used to come over and play. It seemed as though every time the two of them got together, there was always some kind of mischief. One time, they dumped every toy my brother owned all over his bedroom floor. All over! The toys were inches deep in his small bedroom. We were 80’s children so his floor was full of everything from Legos to Lite Brite pegs to Star Wars figures and Matchbox cars…all dumped from their boxes, containers, and cases. I remembered opening the door and looking at the sea of toys. I remembered my Mom painstakingly sorting and cleaning up all those toys. I’m sure my brother helped but she did most of the work…what a tough job that was.
Another memorable mishap involved a piggy bank and some tape. My brother and I both had a large ceramic piggy bank in our bedrooms. We put all the change given to us by our parents or relatives into those piggy banks. Our parents told us when we graduated high school, we could bust them open and count our money. There was a small plug on the bottom but we imagined cracking the pigs open and pouring out the coins we collected over all those years. High school graduation seemed so far away when you were 6 years old. Another day, when my brother’s friend was over to play, the boys decided to get the money out of that pig. They didn’t want to wait for graduation. I didn’t remember what they used to break it, quite possibly my Dad’s hammer, but they smashed it. After his friend left, my brother came downstairs and grabbed something out of the drawer in the kitchen and went back to his room. Again, the details are a little fuzzy, but I remembered staring down at my brother’s blue piggy bank that was cracked into a bunch of pieces, put back together by rolls of scotch tape! It must have taken him forever to put those pieces back together into one pig-shaped bank, still capable of holding a decent amount of change. I am not sure if my brother thought no one would notice the layers of cloudy tape holding his prized pig together or if he was afraid of getting in trouble. Still, I admired his ambition. My brother chose to fix what was broken. He sure had some patience. Either way, it was pretty funny and a sight I would never forget.
The other day, I heard that story about the broken plate, that story that starts out with someone admiring a beautiful dinner plate and then dropping it, shattering it into pieces. Then, they show the plate after it had been glued back together and explain how even though it is put back together, it still had cracks in it that would always be there. I had heard different versions of this story but the idea was always the same. We were hurt by words or by force. We healed. We functioned again. But we always had our ‘cracks’, our ‘flaws’, no matter if they were seen by others or not, or how hard we tried to hide them.
In some ways, I agreed with that story. Words hurt our hearts and stripped away our worth. Life happened and shattered us into a million pieces. The damage we suffered stayed with us, left a mark. Absolutely. But I liked to think of that plate another way…
Doesn’t jour healing depend on what we used to reconstruct that piggy bank, to fix that plate, to mend ourselves?
My Mom used her knowledge of the toys and my brother’s room to put it all back together again. She recognized the pieces, sorted them, and returned them to their proper place. If she wasn’t familiar with Lite Brite, Star Wars figures, or Matchbox cars; that project would have taken much longer. Of course, it was only going to be clean until the next time my brother invited his friend over to play.
My brother knew what the piggy bank looked like before and what it should look like when he finished. He used tape to make the pieces fit together again. It may not have looked so nice but it got the job done. The pig held its shape and the change – but probably not for long. The weight of the change would weaken the tape and the pieces would start to pull apart.
That plate, the one that was shattered on the floor was pieced back together too. Someone probably used glue. That glue might have been strong, but over time, the cracks in the plate may have reappeared, the pieces may not have held up through washes or a heavy duty cycle in the dishwasher. It was in one piece but those pieces weren’t held together very tightly.
But think about that piggy bank and that plate and imagine the strongest of glues sticking those shattered pieces together and making them whole again. Imagine a glue that adhered to the rough edges, smoothed them out, and seamlessly fit them together again. Imagine a glue so strong that those cracks and edges of those broken pieces were made stronger than they were before. Imagine a glue mended those pieces forever, making the plate and the piggy bank forever unbreakable.
Haven’t we all felt like that cracked plate, like that fractured piggy bank, like the toys in a jumbled mess on the floor? Haven’t we all felt broken into so many pieces, that we would never be put back together again? Haven’t we all felt like a lost cause at one time or another?
Now, imagine that we could use this glue on ourselves, that we could fix our broken hearts, fill in the holes, and shield ourselves from further damage. Imagine how wonderful to have access to something so powerful.
How amazing is it that we do?
God was that powerful! God was the glue that could put us all back together. God knew us inside and out, he knew what was broken in us, and he knew how to fill in our cracks, smooth out our edges, and make us whole again. Somehow, no matter how broken we might have been, He reinforced us and made us stronger than we were before, stronger than we thought possible. He took what was broken in us and made us stronger for it.
Life knocked me down many times. When I was diagnosed with cancer the first time, I felt the floor drop out from under me and I crashed down, hard! My whole world was shattered into a thousand pieces. God glued me back together, wrapped me in faith, and held me through the most difficult of times. When I was diagnosed with cancer the second time and was told my cancer was incurable, I wasn’t just in a thousand pieces – I was in a puddle on the floor. Still, God surrounded me with His love, scraped me off the floor, and bound me back together again. As scared and beaten up as I was sometimes, I felt stronger than ever before. God’s grace and His mercy was my glue. God’s love and faithfulness was my strength. I was sick at times. I was battered by treatment. I was scared that my life wasn’t going to work out as planned – but I was stronger than I had ever been… and that was because of God.
Like my Mom put my brother’s room back together, God put all our pieces back together when they were scattered across the floor.
Like my brother taped that piggy bank back together, God knew where all our pieces went and he reshaped us and allowed us to fill up again – not with change; but with faith, hope, and love.
Like the pieces of that plate were glued together, God gathered all our pieces, made us whole, and reinforced our cracks so that we were stronger than ever.
So, when you feel like life took a hammer and smashed you like my brother’s piggy bank, hold on to your faith. Ask God for help. It may take some time. It may take some patience. It may not happen overnight…but know that God is working, faithfully, to put you back together again. He is repairing what is broken, filling you up, and strengthening you from the inside out…sometimes, you need to be broken so that He can fix you, piece by piece.