We tend to spend a lot of our time hoping and praying that things in our lives and within our ministries won’t break. Most of the time we are justified in doing so. When the car doesn’t run or the refrigerator stops making ice, we have to deal with the cost and inconvenience of getting them repaired. When valuable volunteers walk away or budgets are cut we scramble to make our ministries work.
Sometimes we become angry and frustrated with God for allowing “our” things to fall apart. Broken things are a hassle that we dread and hope to avoid. But sometimes broken things are part of God’s perfect plan and purpose for our lives. I know it sounds crazy on the surface, but sometimes God grows things by breaking them.
When Jesus and the disciples found themselves on a remote hillside with five thousand hungry men (plus unnumbered women and children), the Savior took the limited resources they had in hand, gave thanks for them, and immediately began breaking them. As He tore apart the little boy’s lunch He handed the broken pieces to His disciples who distributed them to the groups who had been gathered on the grass. After the crowd had eaten and was satisfied, the disciples gathered up twelve baskets of leftovers.
No one would have expected that Jesus would feed five thousand people with two fish and five loaves of bread, but something remarkable took place when that single meager meal was given to Him. I find it interesting that He didn’t take it and giganticize it. He didn’t expand the tiny fish and little loaves into whales and wheat fields. Instead, He took them and He broke them. And somewhere in the breaking God brought about miraculous multiplication.
A Body Broken
Later, when Jesus and His disciples reclined around the table in the upper room, He again took bread and broke it. This time He explained that the broken bread was a picture of His body that would be broken for their salvation. Isaiah 53 foretold that the Messiah would be pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our sins. That the punishment that brought us peace was to be upon Him, and that it would be through His wounds that we would be healed. His broken body and spilled-out blood were necessary to pay the full price for all the sin of all mankind for all eternity. God provided the greatest gift of all through the breaking of His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Maybe, just maybe, we shouldn’t stress out so much when things fall apart. Maybe we should stop exhausting ourselves by striving to keep holding everything together all the time. Perhaps we need to be reminded to give those things to God and trust Him to handle them according to His will.
I’m not suggesting that every broken thing is from the Lord. Satan is a real adversary who actively seeks to disrupt, discourage, divide, and destroy those who belong to Jesus. We live in a fallen world that has been broken by sin. I believe that this kind of brokenness breaks the heart of our Father. Yes, sometimes God breaks things, but other times our great God takes broken things and puts them back together. Praise His name!
The point is to not merely assume that every broken thing is a bad thing. We need to respond to the challenges we face by looking for God’s hand in every situation. James instructs us to consider it pure joy when we encounter various trials (James 1:2). Paul teaches us to give thanks in every circumstance (1 Thessalonians 5:18). The assumption is that we will face trials and we will face challenging circumstances. And sometimes these things are actually blessings from the Lord that we should welcome with thanksgiving.
May we hold our possessions, and our relationships, and our ministries, and everything that we cherish with open hands, trusting God to do with them as He pleases for His glory and for the advancement of the gospel, even when that means breaking our things. After all, they aren’t really our things at all.