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When I was a youth pastor, one night I piled all the youth into the van and drove to the local Walmart to pick up some clay pots.

The students excitedly picked out pots that matched what they were looking for—pots of all different shapes and sizes.

When we made it back to the church, I had the students write a timeline of their life on their clay pots. Many of them wrote about the big, important moments—birth, becoming a teenager, first day of high school, awards received, you name it. Some of them got creative and even wrote about smaller moments in their lives that were a big deal to them, such as adopting their favorite pet.  

After they had finished writing, we broke the pots.

Many of them broke into four or five big pieces, and some of them shattered into multiple shards.

And this is how life can feel so many times.

Life can be a series of moments that slowly fracture or ultimately break into pieces in our hands. And at times, the grief and weight of life feels like it shatters us into shards that we believe are beyond repair.

I have been in that season recently.

After we held the shattered pieces of clay in our hands at youth group, I passed out tubes of gold glue to all the students, who were very confused at this point.

There is an old Japanese tradition called Kintsugi. It is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery, which normally would’ve been thrown out, by mending the broken places with fragments of gold. Because of this, it is believed that the break and fracture in the pottery makes it much more valuable and priceless.

I wonder how true that can be in the broken pieces of my life.

Could it be possible that hope and hurt, brokenness and beauty, can exist at the same time in my life?

I think for most of my life I have existed either in a season of heartbreak or of hope. I wasn’t sure before that the two could exist together. My recent heartbreak has felt so deep and the grief so overwhelming, that I struggle to believe that hope and beauty could be growing in this place. And in seasons of life that are hopeful and exciting, I tend to push away any emotion related to grief.

But what if?

What if the scars, what if the brokenness, could make our hope that much more powerful? What if gold hues of hope could fill in the gaps of our broken wounds with peace and comfort in the midst of the grief?

Not to diminish the depth of emotion or grief, but to step into the middle of the emotions and find the very presence of God there.

C. S. Lewis once said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains.”

Through this current season of life, I am reminded to look back at the darkest times of my life, and in those moments, I can see the fingerprints and love of God deeper and brighter than ever.

Recently I have found myself singing worship songs that talk about my hope being found in something God WILL do someday. Songs that give the assumption my hope comes from the future outcome.

But my hope—our hope—is found in something greater. Our hope is in what He has already done for us. Our hope is in who He is. Our hope is the love and the grace and the beauty that He has already poured out for us. And our hope is in His very presence being with us in the middle of the pain.

I still think about those clay pots a lot. And as I trace my fingers along the broken edges that are filled with golden glue, I remind myself that His presence in my pain is the way I can hold onto hope through the pain.

Perhaps the grief will still be strong. The brokenness will change things. The edges may still feel rough. The darkness may seem overwhelming.

But that doesn’t mean my heartbreak overtakes my hope. It doesn’t mean there is no hope or golden beauty.

Because my Hope already came and lived and died… and rose again. He brought me life and love. He did the same for you. He met us in our brokenness and spoke beauty and light. He filled the broken edges with gold.

And He is with us here.

Here in the middle of grief. Here in the middle of shattered shards. Here in the middle of ordinary. Here in the middle of change.

Our Hope—our God—is here. And He is faithful, and He is good, and He loves us. Oh, how He loves us in the middle of the grief.

In the middle of my breaking heart, I can find both grief and hope. Because He is here with me too.

Therefore, I have so much hope.

“The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends. His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness.”

Lamentations 3:19-23 NLT

Bella Kauffman

Bella Kauffman is a proud homeschool graduate and National Bible Bee alumna. She published her first book at 18 and is now the author of six devotionals for teens (published under her maiden name, Morganthal). Bella has been a writing coach, speaker, and magazine editor. She served as a youth pastor for nearly five years and recently became a missionary with Joy El Ministries. She is the wife of Brad and a cat mom to Marley and Binx. Bella is creative, upbeat with a loving personality, and is passionate about leading teens and kids to Christ.


Stephanie Ziebarth 7 months ago

This is beautiful and very true, Bella. Thanks for sharing in a way that will resonate with many hearts and that proclaims God's goodness and beauty.

It made me think of the same verses you shared at the end in Lamentations, as well as Isaiah 61:3. :)

Barb Lange 7 months ago

You write in such a way to touch the deepest parts of our pain.... You don't pretend to have all the answers....a posture of humility comes through this l your words that draw us to the Truth.....Jesus!

I resonate with you ..a broken heart that only Jesus can fix. Some days we weep and that is ok. Grief and loss are a reality on this earth that we all will face at one time or another. Where do we go and what do we do when it hits? If it's any place other than the arms of Jesus, we're going to be in trouble.

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