Thanksgiving Day, 1999. The meal was ready. The house was clean. The guests were due to arrive.
My then-husband had helped with the preparations by cleaning the bathroom floor (fire station style) with straight ammonia. He warned me the floor would be slippery. I wrote a note and taped it to the bathroom door to warn the children.
He and our oldest son left to drive across town to pick up a pecan pie from a friend.
The table was set. All was ready.
I walked down the hall to the bathroom, and in sock feet, stepped on the slick floor. I fell face first into the corner. Somehow (I still don’t know how), I came down on my left elbow, which somehow twisted behind me.
Thankfully, my daughter was home. I called for her and said words I never thought I’d say: “Call 9-1-1.”
The break was a four-inch spiral fracture—almost compound.
The doctor did not put the arm in a cast. He put it in a two-piece fiber-glass contraption that strapped together. I had to sleep half-sitting in a recliner for several weeks.
The arm eventually healed. I went to physical therapy I don’t remember how long, and my arm is fully restored.
Nobody would ever know I had been injured so severely.
Such is not the case with every injury, of course. Some injuries cannot be fixed. Some leave evidence for all the world to see.
But, of course, you’ve probably realized I related this story not to discuss first aid or First Responders or physical therapists.
This, our final discussion on the topic of Fractures is along the lines of the others: injuries to the spirit and soul.
One of my favorite passages is Jeremiah 18: 1-4
The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.
This particular passage was an object lesson to the nation of Israel. God ends his plea to Israel with: “Cannot I do with you as this potter?”
Perhaps you have heard as many sermons and songs about this story as I have.
Much is made of the fact that the potter “didn’t throw the clay away,” and what a blessed truth that is.
God is longsuffering. “His mercy is everlasting.” Psalm 100: 5.
But first, the truth is stated: the vessel was marred in the hand of the potter.
And this is the first mental and spiritual leap we must make when we are broken or in the process of breaking.
We remain—poor humble clay pots that we are—in God’s hand.
And there we stay and are safe—no matter how it appears at the time, how hopeless we judge ourselves to be, how shattered and beyond repair we deem ourselves.
In every life—sooner or later—young or mature—the day comes that we are face to face with the realization: I never dreamed things would turn out this way. I never saw this coming. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve this.
We end up—sometimes through no fault of our own, sometimes from our own bad decisions, sometimes because we have been deceived, sometimes _______ [fill in your own reason]—in a situation we have no idea how to handle, and see no way out of.
It’s hard then to remember you are “in the hand of the Potter,” and that God is still at work.
But He assures us He is.
Psalm 31: 14-15. But I trusted in thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my God. My times are in thy hand.
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of being broken is that you’re still expected to function. You still have to go through your daily life, going to work, taking care of your family, living daily life, when you can barely keep your head above water.
When you’re broken:
Turn to God. Don’t turn away from Him. If you will keep trusting and keep bringing your needs before Him, He will draw nigh to you. Even if you don’t “feel” Him near, He is. He has promised never to leave you. You are still in His hands. Pray honestly. So often when we pray, we try to fool God with how spiritual we are, as if He doesn’t know the truth about us. Tell Him how you feel.
Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
Ask for help. When you’re broken, your judgment is compromised. You cannot think straight and often the problems you’re facing are larger than any you have known before, and may very well be like nothing you have ever experienced before.
Take a trusted friend into your confidence. Find someone who has been through what you are experiencing and find out what they did to cope and survive.
Keep believing. Even though you may think “there is no hope,” keep believing. Your brokenness may not end today or tomorrow or next week, but one day, your wounds will start to heal. You will begin to feel like yourself again and grow stronger.
Psalm 18:35 Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath held me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.
The scar may always be with you. But once your fracture heals, you will look back and see God had you in His hand the entire time.
Then you can turn and tell someone else you found God faithful.