“Can you glue it back together?” My friend reached out her hand, which held small plastic pieces of what had been the covering to the head joint of her baroque flute traverso. The instrument had fallen, causing the plastic part to shatter, sending fragments all over the room. With no expectation of success, I nonetheless attempted to reassemble it. Little by little, the pieces fit together like a puzzle and reformed into their original shape. The result was far from perfect, but the part was again usable. With relief, my friend put it back on her flute.
This incident reminds me of what God does for us. Sin and suffering have shattered our world, and we all have cracks and holes. The brokenness of some people may be more pronounced and visible than for others, but no one is unscathed. So how does God “put us back together?” The list is endless, but I would like to focus on three specific areas:
He restores our joy. God created us for joy, both for ours and for his. His goal was for us to enjoy each other in a loving relationship. I don’t need to tell you that our world is far removed from its original intention. Joy is in short supply, and when we experience it, something always seems to come and swoop it away.
It’s important to understand that joy differs from happiness—it doesn’t depend on our circumstances as happiness does. Instead, joy comes from within, and surprisingly, we can experience both joy and sadness simultaneously (for different reasons, of course).
So, whenever situations threaten to squash our joy, God delights to come to the rescue and fill up our “joy tank” again. He wants us to be joyful and even encourages us to be so (you’d be surprised at how much the Bible mentions joy). How does he restore our joy? Only in the context of a close relationship with him. The more we focus on who he is and what he’s done for us, the more our hearts are filled with joy, even when it doesn’t make sense.
We will always experience periods of mourning, grief, and sadness, but God helps us move through those times without falling into despair and getting stuck in that place. He slowly brings us back to where we can feel joy again.
He heals our emotions. God created us to be emotional beings, and he knows even better than we do how we function. Emotions are like a mighty river that can be used for good— transport, fishing, and even fun—or can become a raging flood that destroys everything in its path.
Let’s look at the list of the fruit of the Spirit. They all come from positive emotions that hold our more toxic passions in check: love instead of hate, joy instead of bitterness, peace instead of fear, patience instead of frustration, kindness and goodness instead of nastiness, faithfulness instead of selfishness, gentleness instead of anger, and self-control instead of instability. (1) Who wouldn’t want these qualities?
Unfortunately, too many people are trapped by the yoyo of their emotions, up one day and down the next, never having learned to bring them under control. Although we’ll always feel a wide range of positive and negative emotions, the Lord can help us rein them in and keep them from becoming our dictators.
He renews our minds. How we think determines how we live. How we view the world, those around us, and ourselves will either enhance our well-being or work against it. Satan is constantly spewing lies our way, wanting to lead us down a path toward destruction. We’re surrounded by such a cacophony of voices that it’s sometimes hard to know what to think.
This is where God can help. He enables us to see reality and draw the appropriate conclusions. In other words, his Word and the Holy Spirit work together so that we can think clearly.
God isn’t out to control us; he wants to help us navigate life with as few mishaps as possible. Yes, he wants our obedience, but in the same way that a guide leading us through a minefield would desire us to copy his every move. Sin is like that mine that we step on—the difference is that we don’t usually see the painful result until later.
The advent of social media—with its logarithms meant to capture our constant attention by feeding us information based on our preferences and not on reality—has resulted in a fractured world where those with differing opinions can’t even have a civil conversation. Our thinking has been broken, but God can lead us back toward having a discerning and wise mind.
Final words. No matter how broken we may seem, no one is beyond God’s ability to put us back together again. When I saw the fragments of the shattered part of the flute, I doubted it would ever be whole again. And yet I was wrong, and it’s now back to serving its purpose. And it’s the same with us. If we choose to follow the Lord, he can restore even our most damaged areas. The scars may remain, but they don’t keep us from fulfilling his purpose in us.
(1) Galatians 5:22-23