How Could God Allow Me to Be Broken?

by Lysa TerKeurst

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Isaiah 40:29 (NIV)

Have you ever caught yourself thinking, “God, please don’t let this be part of my story”?
That was me when I first got my cancer diagnosis. Honestly, it just felt like too much on top of an already devastating season in my life.

When life is unfolding in hard ways, it can feel impossible to understand why God would allow hurt upon hurt. How could His mercy not fix all of this? How could He possibly use any of this for good?We see more and more unnecessary heartbreak. But God sees the exact pieces and parts that must be added right now to protect us, provide for us and prepare us with more and more of His strength working through us.

I learned about these very necessary “pieces and parts” one day with a friend whose mother is a professional potter.

I was sharing with her about how, when we place the dust of our shattered places into God’s hands and He mixes it with His living water, the clay that’s formed can then be made into anything. She smiled so big. She’d seen clay being formed into many beautiful things when placed into her mother’s hands. And she shared something with me that made my jaw drop.

She told me that wise potters not only know how to form beautiful things from clay, but they also know how important it is to add some of the dust from previously broken pieces of pottery to the new clay. This type of dust is called “grog.”

When shattered just right, the grog dust added to the new clay will enable the potter to form the clay into a larger and stronger vessel than ever before. And it can go through fires much hotter as well. Plus, when glazed, these pieces end up having a much more beautiful, artistic look to them than they would have otherwise.

Isn’t that incredible?

And then I read Isaiah 45:9: “Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’?”

I kept reading that verse from Isaiah and decided to do a little investigation into the term potsherd.
A potsherd is a broken piece of pottery. Interestingly enough, a potsherd was also mentioned in the story of Job when he was inflicted with an awful disease:

“So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes. His wife said to him, ‘Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!’ He replied, ‘You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?’ In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.” (Job 2:7–10)

A broken potsherd can lie on the ground and be nothing more than a constant reminder of brokenness. It can also be used to continue to scrape us and hurt us even more when kept in our hands. Or, when placed in our Master’s hands, the Master Potter can be entrusted to take that potsherd, shatter it just right, and then use it in the re-molding of us to make us stronger and even more beautiful

When I understood this, I saw that in all my circumstances God was keeping me moldable while adding even more strength and beauty in the process. Much like He promises in our key verse, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” (Isaiah 40:29)

I didn’t want to have cancer.

There’s no part of my human brain that thinks cancer is fair for any precious person who receives this diagnosis. God didn’t cause this potsherd reality in my life. It’s the result of living in this sin-soaked world.
But I had to decide that I didn’t want that broken reality to just be a potsherd wasted on the ground or something I kept in my hand that hurt me more. I had to take it and entrust it to the Lord.
What do you need to entrust to Him today?

God is making something beautiful out of our lives, sweet friends. I truly believe it. We can keep questioning what He sees as the necessary ingredients to strengthen us or we can choose to believe that He can do amazing things with the dust and the potsherds of our lives. I know it’s not easy. But let’s surrender every broken piece into the Father’s hands.

Lord, I’m choosing to trust You. Take all of these broken places in my life and shatter them just right, so I can be made stronger, more beautiful, and able to withstand fires as never before. I believe that You see things I cannot see. And You have eventual good in mind. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Used by permission.

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