The Cracked Pot

“My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak … as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery” Psalm 31:10, 12

Have you ever felt useless? Wondered why you exist? Desperate? Lacking in confidence? Believing you’re inferior? Struggling to overcome low self esteem? Under the circumstances? Enduring contempt from others? Seeing your life leak away and your years fade out in sighs?

You’re not alone. David, the psalmist king, on a number of occasions felt useless and weak with sorrow, grief or distress. For example, in Psalm 31:10,12 he says, “My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak … as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery.”

The reference to broken pottery is a powerful metaphor. It denotes utter uselessness, forsakenness and disgracefulness. For broken pottery cannot be repaired and is only fit for the dump. Or is it? The story of the cracked pot reveals how brokenness isn’t synonymous with uselessness:

A water bearer in India had two large pots hanging on the end of a pole which he carried around his neck. One pot was perfect and the other was cracked. The perfect pot always delivered a full quota of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the Master’s house. The cracked pot always arrived half full.

This went on for two years, with the water bearer delivering only one and a half pots of water every day. Of course the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments and the cracked pot was ashamed of its imperfection and inability to perform.

Finally, distressed with its failure, the cracked pot spoke to the water bearer saying, “I’m ashamed of myself, and I want to apologise.” “Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?” “Well,” said the cracked pot, “For two years I have only been able to deliver half the quota of water because this crack in my side allows water to leak out on the way from the stream to the Master’s house.”

The water bearer smiled. “It’s not as it seems,” he said. “As we return to the Master’s, house, I want you to see the beautiful flowers along the path.” So, as they went up the hill, the cracked pot noticed the sun warming the beautiful flowers on the side of the path. But at the masters house, with half the quota of water leaked out, the pot still felt a failure.

Noticing the pot’s sadness the water bearer said, “Did you observe how the flowers only grew on your side of the path and not on the other side? That’s because I’ve always known about your flaw and taken advantage of it. I planted seeds on your side of the path, and every day as we journeyed from the stream to the Master’s house, you’ve watered them. For two years I’ve been able to pick the flowers and decorate my Master’s table with them. Without you being just the way you are the master wouldn’t have had beautiful flowers adorning his house.”

It’s the same with people. We’re all flawed. We’re all cracked pots. But that’s exactly what God uses. In His hands our imperfections become His perfection, our weakness becomes His strength, and our brokenness waters the flowers that adorn His house.

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