Redemption’s Way of Turning Broken to Beautiful
By SARAH MOCKLER
We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28 MEV
I have a royal fascination for … royals. Lords and ladies, kings and queens — I love good, old-fashioned pomp and circumstance. I was the girl who was enthralled with Anastasia in my growing up years, and I may or may not have all of Queen Victoria’s diaries downloaded on my Kindle. With a recent royal wedding, I refrained from setting my alarm early to catch the details, but I thoroughly enjoyed snippets of the ceremony later on … when I was intrigued by a detail in the ceremony that deeply resonated with me.
After the couple pledged their love and devotion before God, the officiate turned his attention from the bride and groom to the many witnesses that were invited to the historic occasion. They too were asked to vow their support both now and in the years to come for the new husband and wife, to which there was a resounding “We will” that reverberated throughout St. George’s Chapel. Wrapping their joined hands in the sash from the priest’s robe, their commitment was sealed with beautiful symbolism as he emphasized what many of us have heard and held onto since we were young, “What God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”
A fractured fairytale
Let not man put asunder. My heart reached out to those words as I stared at a picture of what was to represent Christ and His Church — a couple’s joined hands, bound together in the robes of righteousness of our King Jesus.
It’s heartbreaking that those words have gone unheeded in our culture and have fallen on deaf ears, hurting hearts in many of our homes. Unfortunately divorce, dysfunction, abuse, and brokenness are not respecters of persons, and it takes more than a fairytale wedding, horse-drawn carriages, or pomp and circumstance to keep the wrecking ball of sin from damaging the good and perfect gifts of marriage and family.
We live in a fallen world of broken promises, scratch-n-dent marriages, severed families, and torn purity — regardless of whether or not we are the offended, the messy effects of sin have impacted us, a family member, or a friend in one way or another. I’m talking about more than broken homes, I’m pointing to the crux of the issue — broken people doing broken things and negatively impacting the hearts, minds, homes, and lives of others.
At first glance, it appears that society is improving in regards to marriage. Divorce rates have decreased by ten percent in the last ten years, but before we give ourselves a pat on the back for moral progress, we must take a deeper look at what the statistic actually reveals. Paired alongside this fact is a steady decline in marriage amongst 18–29 year-olds. Furthermore, statistics show that the percentage of those living together outside of marriage hasn’t budged. All of this boils down to a single fact — fewer young adults are getting married or are in committed relationships. What does all of this mean?
Ultimately, I believe this trend points to a greater reality — when houses and hearts are divided from Christ and from one another, brokenness can set in and snowball. Brokenness is a cyclical pattern that has been on repeat since the fall of man and, when wrongly handled apart from the healing that Jesus brings, spurs the wrong questions leading to the wrong conclusions about God and ourselves. If these issues remain unresolved, our past hurt can hinder us from true relationship — with God and with each other. And, I believe, that is part of what we are seeing reflected in our society today.
Have you been there? I have.
Beauty from Ashes
I was young when my family split and I spent the majority of my growing-up years bouncing back and forth between houses, sets of family, and circles of friends all the while wondering how the wrinkles in the fabric of my family would ever iron out. At times it felt impossible and quite bleak. And yet, all of these years later and rejoicing on the other side of Christ’s redemption, I can attest to this fact: Jesus was — and is — there.
He has walked through broken. He has healed damaged. He has overcome sin. He is in the process of joining together what man has put asunder. He is there in the middle of the sticky situation; the gut-wrenching awful that you can’t imagine a way out of; the depressing darkness that clouds your vision; the pain you feel will never heal. The Lord is there, here, now — yesterday, today, and forever! And if we trust Him and hope in His Word, He can and will take our hand, pull us out of the pit, and equip us to be restorers of what has been broken.
So how do we get to the place — body, mind, and soul — where we can smile in the face of ugly circumstances and say, “The enemy may have meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”? How do we declare God’s faithfulness in working all things together for good when we’re in a muddy trench of difficulty?
If you ever have asked those questions, dear reader, this is for you. It is for those who have stumbled through broken situations and for those who long to understand and serve others who are walking a pain-ridden path. In Christ, we have all the answers we could ever need! Our stories may be as different as the stars in the sky and yet the bright hope of Jesus can illumine every single journey with His truth and chase away the clouds of night.
While the main focus of what I will share is directed towards broken homes and split families, it is important to note that the core of these truths can shine light on your specific area of need. God’s truth endures forever and reaches into all aspects of life. You, friend, have an anchor for the soul that remains sure and steadfast for your individual life circumstance.
I am not an expert; I’m just a girl from a broken home who knows a Wonderful Counselor that bandaged my heart with Jesus’ garments of salvation. I have witnessed firsthand how He turns mourning to dancing, and it is my earnest prayer that sharing with you what Christ has shared with me at various points in my own journey can point you towards the ever-miraculous transformation of bringing beauty from ashes.
Turning broken to beautiful
Cherishing God’s Pattern
To make a wedding gown, there must first be a pattern. You wouldn’t expect to see Vera Wang free-styling her way into a piece of silk with a pair of scissors. Rather, there are sketches depicting the drape of the gown, careful measurements to ensure that the dress fits like a glove, and a template that serves as a guide to transform yards of organza into wedding day finery. The end result is a stunning gown fit for a princess.
God’s pattern for marriage and family (and life in general) far surpasses any design that Vera Wang could dream! No amount of lace can compare to the flawless design God envisioned — it’s the effects of sin that ravage the pattern, leave us disenchanted, or bring immense hurt that fosters a jaded view of what God created. And this is why we must cherish the pattern God has established — be it marriage, family, or something else — even if we haven’t seen it modeled in a positive, healthy fashion. Hearts bent on faith don’t see to believe but believe in order to see. (Read Psalm 27:13 and 2 Corinthians 5:7.)
Believe Him when He says He is the Giver of “every good and perfect gift” (Jms. 1:17). If all you have witnessed is a house divided that cannot stand, you have the opportunity to trace the pattern He has left for your life in His Word. Rather than allowing the barnacles of this world to leave you less than impressed or fearful of something God says is right and good, replace wrong thinking with a proper, thorough understanding of what He made. If it’s marriage — immerse yourself in the concept of covenant. You will be in awe of how God has modeled a covenant relationship with His people and how that can be depicted beautifully within marriage.
Seeing Broken as God Does
Lilias Trotter, missionary to Algeria, once said, “Take the very hardest thing in your life — the place of difficulty, outward or inward, and expect God to triumph gloriously in that very spot. Just there He can bring your soul into blossom.”2 She raises a beautiful perspective and point! Rather than interpreting your circumstances in terms of your hurt, your “hardest thing” (abandonment, split-home, etc.) needs to be defined in God’s terms — biblically and redemptively.
These two questions can be life-changing when we ask and apply them to our individual circumstances: “What does God say about this?” (biblical reasoning) and “How can God get glory from this?” (redemptive reasoning).
For example, the Word of God clearly states how the Author of marriage feels about divorce. (See Malachi 2:16.) But, thanks be to God, He can receive the glory due His name first through a renewed perspective as we view divorce as an unfortunate illustration that reminds us of a greater reality: Sin always causes a “divorce” between God and man, and the only thing that can bridge that gap is the Cross of Jesus Christ. When we realize that the most devastating divorce that ever occurred was when the Spirit of God was torn from the soul of man, if we rub shoulders with divorce in the here and now, it can be tempered and healed with the balm of the Gospel as we realize this is why Jesus came — to save sinners and one day right every wrong.
No matter how impossible it feels, may I remind you that your hill of difficulty or place of brokenness is not beyond Jesus’ rescue. In fact, I believe the more dire the circumstances, the more God has to work with to bring about a stunning display of His power and redemptive work!
The best example is found by looking at the Cross. There isn’t another point in human history when circumstances looked more bleak or impossible than when the Son of God shed His blood and yielded up His Spirit. Death seemed to have the upper hand during three deafeningly quiet days in the tomb. Yet, all the while, God had a rescue plan that no power of hell could thwart! Jesus’ resurrection is a powerful reminder that with God nothing is impossible! In my own life, there are relationships that I am still waiting for God to redeem, but even in the “almost but not yet” seasons of restoration, I have seen His patchwork of grace beautify the unloveliness in my own past.
One of those “patches” is a gift I received from my dad. It only cost two cents, yet remains the most treasured gift I’ve ever received. You see, after the dust had settled and I officially began to live at my dad’s house as a teenager, he gave me an unassuming velvet ring box. Mystified and slightly curious, I opened the box to find two copper pennies tucked precisely where a ring would have gone. But these weren’t just any ordinary pennies.
They were originally the humble and heartbroken offering of a five-year-old daughter to her daddy on the day their home divided — to remember her by. Years passed and they were wept over, prayed over, and returned when God brought her home once more as a young woman. A mere two cents and yet such a token of God’s faithfulness that even the broken can be turned to beautiful.
I don’t know your “two cents story” or how God is bringing your “broken” to a settled and restored place of new beginnings. But I share this to point to the important truth that if a blossom isn’t unfolding in the center of your circumstances right now, be patient. Wait on the Lord and align your thoughts according to the truth. As you do, you will be kept from destructive thoughts (bitterness, anger, depression, etc.) and you will find that God truly does make “everything beautiful in His time” (Ecc. 3:11).
Living to let the Light Shine Through
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels…” 2 Corinthians 4:7
The Apostle Paul said that we, as those who have been broken and bound up, are earthen vessels — simple pieces of pottery that are prone to chipping and easily breakable. Vessels are built to carry things, but we were not made to carry around a victim mentality or house the unwanted guests of self-pity and bitterness. Jesus is the Treasure that is to fill us, and any crack or point of weakness can be sealed with a seam of grace that allows the light of His love to diffuse through us. It restores our functionality and provides those who witness our lives with a refreshing view of the life and love of Jesus that streams from those seams of grace!
Healing will come. It may be a glimmer on the horizon of your broken heart, but when it comes into sight more clearly, you will see that healing is a Person. And His name is Jesus. He has promised to draw near to the brokenhearted and deliver us out of all our trouble. The Bible calls Him the Sun of Righteousness and His rays of truth bring healing, light, and counsel to our circumstances.
Some wounds can’t heal without help — and Jesus can expertly cleanse us with the washing of the water of the Word, apply the balm of comfort and consolation, and bandage us with the garments of His salvation until we are fully recovered! Healing doesn’t mean that the memory of the wrong will vanish, but the pain of it can. Healing doesn’t mean that there won’t always be a scar in the physical realm where we live and breathe, but our soul can remain whole and unblemished.
Note: While Christ is our soul-level cure, I do believe there are sources that can be beneficial for leading hearts to discovering wholeheartedness in Him. Jesus knows who and what each individual needs in order to overcome, and will faithfully direct those who look to Him as to what that looks like specifically.
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Whatever has been put asunder in your life you can be sure that “God’s story never ends with ashes.” Even if our houses are divided, our hearts can be united with Christ, and His Spirit will direct us in how to live as vessels of His reconciliation and peace towards others. His ways are infinitely higher than our own, and we can rest in knowing He can turn the worst of times upside down to the saving of many souls, beginning with our own. With Jesus, even ashes can be kindled to blaze brightly for our good and for His glory!
This article was originally published in Issue 25.
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