“God The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me…to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those whose grieve in Zion — to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Isaiah 61:1-3
Imagine a ceramic vase so beautiful it takes your breath away. Now imagine that vase smashed into a dozen pieces on the ground. It’s ruined, right? What was once beautiful is now just broken shards destined for the scrap heap. Maybe. In Japan, potters have long practiced a restorative technique called kintsugi, which means “golden joinery.” Using this art, Japanese masters take a broken vessel and repair it with gold lacquer so it looks even more beautiful for having been broken.
BEAUTY FROM BROKENNESS
Beauty from brokenness. Instead of wiping the slate clean, God chooses to make something more beautiful from His broken world. God in His infinite love and wisdom is the ultimate kintsugi master. He restores what is broken so that it becomes even more beautiful than before.
We see Abraham and Sarah—without hope of producing children together—made the father and mother of many nations (Genesis 15–22). We see Joseph, sold into slavery by his brothers, made second-in-command of Egypt. When his brothers feared for their lives, Joseph reassured them by saying, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20). We see Rahab the prostitute, alone reckoned righteous among her people and made part of the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:5). And there are all the prophets, similar to artists, painting a scene of hope amid suffering (Isaiah 9:1–7; Jeremiah 29:10–14; Malachi 4:2).
BEAUTY FROM DEATH
But there’s more. God is such a master of kintsugi, such a Redeemer of broken things, that He even uses death to accomplish His good purposes. We see this in the story of Lazarus, whose death God purposed so that the people of Israel might see the glory of God revealed when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:15, 40). Lazarus’s death was just a foreshadowing for the greatest plot twist of history, when Jesus Himself willingly gave up His life on the cross and rose again in order to break the power of sin and death. That most broken thing—death itself—no longer has a hold on us. The sting of death is removed in Jesus. And a promise of eternal life comes in its place.
BEAUTY AMID SUFFERING
“Great,” we might say. “So God ultimately brings beauty out of ashes, but what about my day-to-day life? What about my child who eats alone in the school cafeteria, desperate for friends? Or my ill mother who’s only getting sicker? Can God redeem my brokenness today?” He can, and He will. He promises that just as we are justified through Christ’s suffering and healed through His stripes (Romans 5:8–9; Isaiah 53:5), so our own faithfulness through suffering produces a Christlike heart and the hope of eternal glory (Romans 5:3–4; 1 Peter 4:19). By becoming like Christ—who learned obedience through what He suffered (Hebrews 5:8) and who, in the midst of suffering, entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly (1 Peter 1:23)—we too can experience hope beyond our wildest imaginings.