Did you ever feel shattered? You are not alone! But feeling shattered is a sad and deeply traumatic experience that countless people have had to deal with. Some, of course, a lot more deeply than others, from failed exams, to failed relationships, to physical or psychological abuse, to serious traffic accidents, to lost jobs, to failed health and bereavement of loved ones and ruined hopes that have left you devastated, and for some a tragic sense of a wasted life, and others a deep sense of guilt – Oh, we could go on! There are so many things that might cause this feeling of being overwhelmed and broken. Here, I want to see whether there might be a realistic way forward; a way of recreating and building hope out of hopelessness.
We seem to know early in life that we were born into a troubled world. How we knew it was troubled is part of our human make-up. There do seem to be some pretty strong clues in how we decide whether a thing is good for us, or whether it is likely to make us feel less than happy, and in more extreme experiences, even shattered.
Here are a few ideas on how to deal with being shattered. These suggestions are not a cure-all, and I hardly need say there is no ‘quick-fix’. And yet I am persuaded that some of the most positive, caring and vibrant persons have come through a variety of shattering experiences, which, rather than leaving them utterly broken and destroyed, have been used by them to look through and beyond the dark experience. They saw it as being something that, however painful, would transform their outlook, and set them to be the mature persons they have become.
In this, as in all of life’s difficulties, we can turn nowhere better than to the word of God. Here alone do we find that trouble – big trouble, came into the world with the revolt into open rebellion of our first parents, Adam and Eve. From that original Genesis ‘fall’ has come a world full of sorrow, trouble and grief, and while ‘In past generations [God] allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness’ (Acts 14:16-17).
In those memorable words the apostle Paul tried hard to restrain the religious zeal of the crowds at Lystra in Asia Minor. And did you notice, how despite the grief in a troubled world, God gave even the joy of harvest as a sign of his care and provision – whether people knew it or not?
I have seen how easy it is to find something or someone else to point the finger at, as if our problem was wholly their fault. Now, there are many instances when other people are responsible. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt, but years later Joseph was able to see God’s hand at work in strange ways, when he explained to his now remorseful brothers, ‘you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive’ (Genesis 50:20). Think of the way Job of old must have been shattered by all the calamities that God allowed to fall upon him. But Job is resolute in his trust in Almighty God. God is perfectly good, loving and wise, and if you have trusted in Jesus Christ, God’s eternal Son, for salvation, then ‘for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose’ (Romans 8:28).
So, are you a genuine believer in Christ, but still shattered? If we have sinned, even by our complaints and ingratitude, we must confess this to God, and ask for his grace to rediscover the peace of God and to see the bigger picture of God’s purpose. However overwhelmed we might be, when you see the bigger picture as Joseph did, this helps to see your own situation in perspective. And then if you are able to praise and thank God for all the rich blessing he has given you in his Son, your being shattered will gradually seem of less trouble. And you may even discover there was a good purpose in them, after all.
Even Jesus was betrayed by a friend into the hands of those who wanted him crucified. So, do Christians blame those religious leaders in this ultimate example of Jesus’ death? No, not at all, here is the wonder; Jesus left heaven’s glory to come into this world of trouble and shattered lives to die as the sinless God-Man, for our transgressions!
• RESTORER OF THE BROKEN
But have you noticed that even Jesus, who was morally perfect, endured trouble and hostility from others. And so have all those who have placed faith in Christ to save them from the condemnation their sins deserved. So, however much we feel shattered by our troubles, there is a road to seeing them in new light; a way where you need not feel the ruined victim, but rather the one who, by God’s grace, is discovering that ‘in Christ’ you are a victor – in him you overcome the world and its short-lived trials and troubles! (See John 16:33).
And then you may begin to see whatever the trouble, it is being used in the Potter’s hands to shape and mould you after the pattern of his plan.
Even the word ‘salvation’ in the Bible, at times, has the thought of restoring and making whole those who were broken. God the loving creator is also the re-creator who knows how to repair broken lives, even the shattered ones, for his praise and glory!