As a kid, one of my favorite things to do was to color. I was a perfectionist. I had to stay inside the lines at all times. Crayola was my favorite brand of crayon because they color the best. You couldn’t bring me cheap crayons because I wouldn’t use them. They just didn’t color right. I also had to have the box with the sharpener included, in case my crayons got dull.
I hated when my crayons broke. You would have thought it was the end of the world. Every time I got upset, I would go crying to my mom and she would always say, “Broken crayons still color baby!” But at three years old, I didn’t understand that. I thought I needed my crayon to be whole in order to color correctly.
Broken Crayons Still Color
I hadn’t thought about this saying in years. Then one day last year, when I was feeling at my lowest, God used this very saying to restore me. I was in a state of brokenness. My heart was broken, my spirit was broken, my faith was low, and my mind was all over the place. I didn’t feel I was good for anything. I didn’t think there was much I could do. I also didn’t think I could fulfill the purpose God had given me. I stopped reading God’s Word. I stopped praying and fasting. I didn’t feel like being social or encouraging to others. I felt like I had nothing left to give. I needed to be encouraged.
One Sunday, God spoke to me through my pastor. She told me it was time to get up and get back to work. She reminded me that God has a plan for my life and a purpose for me to fulfill. After our conversation, I started praying and asking God, “How can you use me in this broken state?” God kept responding, “Broken crayons still color.” God was saying, yes you are broken, but you can still do what I made you to do. You can still do what I called you to do, what I purposed you to do. Yes, you are broken, but I can still use you.
People in the Bible Who Were Broken
As I studied Scripture, I encountered some of the people God used, even though they were broken. People like Moses, Ezekiel, Naomi, and Rahab showed me the other side of brokenness. No matter what broken state we’re in, we are never beyond God’s reach. We are never so far gone that God can’t make us effective for God’s purposes.
Moses was a Hebrew who grew up in Pharaoh’s house. He fled Egypt after killing an Egyptian guard. But God had a plan and purpose for Moses’ life. Though he left as a murderer, God eventually sent him back to Egypt as a deliverer of the people (see Exodus 2:1-3:12). Ezekiel wasn’t allowed to mourn because God was using him as an object lesson to show the people of Israel what they would soon experience at the hand of their enemies (see Ezekiel 24:15-27). Even in his broken-hearted state, Ezekiel had to continue to fulfill his purpose, which was to speak and demonstrate the Word of God and carry out God’s commands.
Naomi shares a similar story. She had lost her husband and two sons, but even through her feelings of loss, emptiness, and bitterness, she helped instruct her daughter-in-law, Ruth, in who to marry. Rahab was a prostitute in Jericho, and we know prostitutes aren’t regarded well in society because of what they do. But Rahab came to know God. She hid two spies and tells them, “…for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on earth below” (Joshua 2:11). Because God had a plan for her life, thankfully, Rahab and her entire family were saved, preserving the lineage of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
We have the ultimate example in Jesus Christ, who was betrayed by those closest to him. He was bruised, battered, and broken. Christ knows what it’s like to feel forsaken and alone. Yet he went through all of this for us, so that we could be reconciled to God.
Do you see yourself in any of these stories? As you read Scripture, pay attention to the nuances in the character’s lives. Note how people are used in effective ways, despite their shortcomings. What other biblical characters and stories could you add to this list?
The Other Side of Brokenness
I love God so much because God doesn’t throw us away when we’re messed-up. God doesn’t say he can’t use us because we’re so broken. Christ came to heal, deliver, restore, and set us free. In Luke 4:18 Jesus says: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has chosen me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed.”
When we are feeling lost, discouraged and broken, know that Christ is right there to bring us through it. He is there to give us hope and increase our faith in God. No, it doesn’t feel good when we’re going through hardship, but Ecclesiastes 7:8 assures me that, “the end of a matter is better than its beginning.” Also, Philippians 1:6 tells us, “I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Even in our state of brokenness, God is still doing a good work in us. Though it doesn’t look or feel so good in the beginning, the end is going to be so much better.
When we are broken, it is not the time to give up and turn away from God. Rather, it’s the time to draw nearer to God. That is when we should seek God all the more for direction, clarity, help, and strength. It’s the very time to ask God to remind us of our purpose, because sometimes we lose that perspective along the way. When we come out on the other side, we’ll have more faith, more joy, more strength, more hope, and a closer relationship with God.
So, don’t give up. Let Psalm 31:24 encourage you: “Be strong, and let your heart be courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord.” Take heart, you have a purpose to fulfill and much work to do.
Try writing the above Scripture references on index cards (Luke 4:18, Ecclesiastes 7:8, Philippians 1:6, and Psalm 31:24). Put them in strategic places and reflect on them throughout your day. Be intentional to read them and let them encourage you when you feel too broken for God to use.
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