I remember the sunlight dancing through the kitchen window as I climbed up onto the kitchen counter. I reached up into the cabinet, fingers finally finding the small juice glass. It was one of my great-grandmothers, the glasses with little vegetable designs. But as I pulled it out, the glass slipped from my hand, hitting the floor and shattering across the kitchen. Despite my seven years, I knew that even if all of the tiny shards could be recovered and glued together, that glass would never be the same. It was too broken.
I’m not sure why the memory of breaking one of these juice glasses came to mind. But lately, it’s this image of shattered glass on the floor that keeps coming to mind as I think about brokenness.
And I’ve been thinking about brokenness a lot lately.
Every day I feel like I am waking up to news of another tragedy. Riots, persecution, rape, war…thousands upon thousands of individuals facing immense injustice. And I feel this mixture of grief and guilt. Grief for what is happening, guilt that my life is carrying on.
God, why is this world so broken? And my head knows the answer but my heart just can’t accept it. This isn’t right! My heart cries out.
At the same time I hear snippets of the incredible ways that God is moving. He is at work in refugee camps, rural villages and cities that are in chaos.
But injustice continues to brutally ravage the world at a speed that makes me question if there are some areas that are just broken beyond repair. It’s made me question justice.
The word that’s become so trendy. Everyone wants justice, but sometimes I wonder if we’ve actually thought through what justice really is…and what the knowledge of justice will require of us.
And more than that, what is justice in the kingdom of God? The upside down kingdom. The one that looks like foolishness to the world.
I recently hear this definition of justice, “Justice is restoring that which is broken in the manner of how God intended it for the world.”
We can look at countries, governments, and systems, and say they are broken. But ultimately what is broken is people.
And broken people cause broken countries, governments and systems.
So the pursuit of justice has to become intimately personal if the real cause is broken people. If we are pursuing justice but missing the individual, what’s the point?
I’ve encountered this intensely personal aspect of justice when witnessing human trafficking. Because for human trafficking to end, we have to do something about the broken individuals who foster and fuel the demand for slavery. We have to see the pimps, the slave owners, the johns as broken individuals.
Since the fall, none of us are devoid of brokenness. While the degrees of brokenness vary, we’ve all experienced brokenness. And this is important—this understanding that brokenness is a shared experienced. The brokenness that we’ve all experienced has the potential to give us key insights into understanding the brokenness of others.
And maybe our own intimate encounters with brokenness are what have further fueled this idea that some things are just broken beyond repair.
Living in South Africa one of the injustices that’s continually on the forefront is poverty. And the deeper you go into this area, the more you discover it’s complexities. Sometimes I feel like I’m sitting on the kitchen floor trying to gather all of the broken pieces of glass, and it just feels too big. The need is too great, there are too many pieces, it’s just too broken.
I forget that the Creator, the One who breathed life into the dust, hasn’t created anything that He can’t restore.
And this gives me hope. As much as creation itself is such a miracle, the greatest miracle is the one that makes all things new.
It’s Jesus who picks up the shards of glass and restores that which seemed beyond repair. And we get to be a part of that process. We get to kneel on the kitchen floor with Him and pick up the pieces. We get to watch Him breathe life back into that which we thought was dead. We get to witness Him reshape and remold that which we thought was permanently disfigured.
The most broken part of creation are the image bearers—us. Yet I’ve seen Him transform the most broken life, heal the shattered soul, and redeem the ones I thought were too far gone.
So I know, that if broken people are the cause of a broken world, and if what Jesus does best is heal broken people, then justice has a chance.
There’s hope for the broken.