We looked earlier this week at a verse from 2 Corinthians and Paul’s statement that we are “like fragile jars of clay containing this great treasure.” (2 Corinthians 4:7 NLT)
The more I read this letter, the more I see the principles of Kintsugi shining through, and today I want to look at a passage from chapter 1:
“We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.” (2 Corinthians 1:8-11 NLT)
Here, Paul is brutally honest about his struggles. He doesn’t try to maintain an image as a “perfect Christian” or a “successful missionary”. He is open about just how difficult it has been for he and Timothy- pushed to their limits to the point where they expected to die. He acknowledges just how broken they were.
Why is he so open about his story? And what are the benefits in us sharing our stories of brokenness?
Let’s look first at why Paul is not doing it. He’s not doing it for pity, he’s not doing it to use his suffering as an excuse to stop serving, and he’s not doing it looking for praise for all that he has overcome.
His motivation is to point to God- to testify that, at the point of death, he learned to rely on a greater power than his own- the God who has the ability to raise the dead.
As he shares of God’s rescue in the past, he expresses his confidence that God will do it again in the present, and he puts his hope in God for the future.
Finally he encourages the Corinthians, thanking them for their prayers and exhorting them to praise God because their prayers have been answered!
It is all about pointing to God and not to himself.
I think this is helpful for us to consider. Obviously there are times when we just need to talk as therapy for ourselves. We need to get our story and our pain out in the open in order to process it, whether with a trained counsellor or with a friend or family member. That is important for our healing.
Here though, I want to focus on how we share our story when we’re a bit further on in the healing process and when our hope in sharing our story would be to encourage others. We’ve talked throughout this series about the importance of being authentic about our brokenness and God’s healing, but it is also important to think about how we do that well, and Paul’s attitude is a great example.
At the start of October I went to a writing conference and one of the sessions was focussed on how we can share our stories well. I’ll share more about the conference in a post in November, but for now here are a few points that I found helpful:
- We are not the main character. It can be easy to cast ourselves in the role of the hero of the story, or sometimes as the villain, but we are neither. In fact God is the central character and our little stories are part of his big story so that is where our focus should be.
- We should consider others who play a part in our stories and how we represent them, as well as being mindful of those who are hearing or reading- what impact will it have on them and how will this affect the way we tell it?
- We should not undermine our stories but we should honour them and value them. Every story is unique.
- The Gospel means we can tell our stories and not be ashamed. God can bring glory to himself through our stories.
If we keep our focus on God then our stories can be just as powerful as Paul’s- testifying of God’s healing and restoration, his power to rescue, and his presence in the midst of challenges. As people relate to our brokenness but then hear testimony of how God has woven his golden threads of healing through our messy stories, the result is hope for the future, and God being glorified.