Do you know what it is like to be a broken vessel?
Shattered. Disillusioned. Hurting. No one seems to understand. There seems to be nowhere to turn. You can’t go another step. You can’t cry another tear. Physically exhausted. Spiritually defeated. Emotionally devastated. Surrounded by a vast ocean of despair, you sink like a piece of broken pottery.
Can you identify? What happened that left you a broken vessel? Did grief leave your heart in pieces? Has the stress of work and family caused you to come unglued? Do you feel shacked by a combination of circumstances that seem to drag you deeper and deeper?
Maybe you understand the heart of David when he said, “I am like a broken vessel.” Psalm 31:12b
A Broken Vessel is an Empty Vessel
David’s life was empty. His physical strength was depleted. His emotional and spiritual strength was gone. It was drained away by the trouble and distress that surrounded him. He prayed: Be gracious to me O Lord, for I am in distress. Psalm 31:9
What kind of distress was it? We have no way of knowing. But whatever it was, it had a devastating impact upon David’s life. He lost his hope. He lost his joy. Just as water spills from a broken vessel, his hopes, his dreams, his courage, his faith, even his desire to go on living, all just drained away.
His eyes were weak from sorrow. His soul and body were weak from grief. His life was consumed by anguish. His years were consumed by groaning. His strength had failed him because of an acute awareness of his own sin. Psalm 31:10
Sin often plays a role in our brokenness—and guilt—and shame. It did here with David. Whatever it was, it left David like a broken vessel. A broken vessel is an empty vessel.
A Broken Vessel is an Unwanted Vessel
Nobody uses broken pottery as a center piece in their home. Even a vessel that once sat in a place of honor as a cherished possession, when broken, becomes an unwanted vessel. It is put aside, put out of sight and out of mind. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to treat those broken by life like a piece of broken pottery. That was true with David. No one seemed to understand his plight. He said, “I am a dread to my friends; those who see me on the street flee from me.” Psalm 31:11b
Jesus always knew when He was dealing with a person shattered by some experience in life. He dealt with them in unusually tender ways. Jesus never tosses a broken vessel aside. In fact, in the midst of our brokenness we have some of the sweetest encounters with the Lord Jesus. He comes to us in our brokenness. He meets us in our brokenness, and He ministers to us in our brokenness as He does in no other season of life.
Can you identify with David? Are you in one of those times in your life when nobody seems to understand—even those who are closest to you? They don’t know how to deal with your brokenness. And because of it, you suffer from the plight of a broken vessel. You feel useless, unwanted, rejected, abandoned.
Jesus Can Identify With Broken Vessels
David felt like a broken vessel. Shattered. Disillusioned. Hurting. He felt like he couldn’t go another step or cry another tear. So with his last milligram of faith, and with his last breath of hope, he sighed, “Into your hand I commit my spirit.” Psalm 31:5
You and David aren’t the only people who have ever gone through a time of brokenness. You aren’t the only one who was ever misunderstood. Jesus also experienced brokenness. Once, when He didn’t feel like He could go another step, or cry another tear, or live another moment, with His last ounce of strength, Jesus took on His lips this word from Psalm 31, and He cried, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
You see, as Jesus hung on that cross, He knew what it was like to feel depleted, drained, discouraged. He knew what it was like to be in distress. So, when from the cross He wanted to express to God His feelings and His faith, He chose this Psalm where David had said, “I am like a broken vessel.”
Jesus understands where you are. He has been there. He has been through what you are going through. He knows the temptations and the discouragement. Turn to Him. Cry out to Him. Say to Him, “Lord, into Your hands I commit my drained and depleted spirit.”
God Can Put Broken Vessels Back Together Again.
If you read this Psalm all the way through, you will discover that it was not written during David’s distress, but after. It is his testimony of how the Lord delivered him. David admits that there were times when he thought God wasn’t around. As for me, I said in my alarm, “I am cut off from before Your eyes.” Psalm 31:22
When your friends treat you like a piece of broken pottery, you halfway expect God to treat you the same way. In our distress and despair, we can conclude that God doesn’t know, doesn’t see, or maybe even doesn’t care. But listen to what David said: You have seen my affliction; you have known the troubles of my soul. Psalm 31:7
God is not blind to our circumstances. He is not ignorant of our situation. Jesus has an intimate awareness of our troubles. It is not a hearsay knowledge. Neither is it the knowledge of one who stands by and looks on. It is the knowledge of experience. It is the knowledge of one who participates in our anguish and who feels what we feel.
God hurts when you hurt. He is sad when you are sad. When you feel like a piece of broken pottery—your Lord’s heart feels the agony of the cross. So there you are are in your brokenness—empty—lonely— and deeply discouraged. Will it help to cry out to God? Listen to David: Nevertheless, You heard the my cry for mercy when I called to you for help. Psalm 31:22b
Does God hear the desperate pleas of His children in distress? A teardrop on your pillow echoes through the halls o heaven. When your heart breaks—God’s heart bleeds!
When David experienced brokenness, he gathered up the shattered pieces and took them to the only Potter he knew who could mend broken lives. Even Jesus, in His own moment of deepest brokenness, committed the shattered pieces into the hands of the Father.
There you sit like a broken vessel, wondering if Jesus can really put the pieces back together again. With that same deep sigh of surrender, place all the pieces into the hands of Jesus and give Him the opportunity to do what only He can do. “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” Psalm 31:5
Photo by Aimee Vogelsang