Of Shattered Dreams ~ And Broken Pitchers

a borken ceramic pot

Broken Pitcher

Have you ever experienced a shattered dream or a broken heart?  Maybe a failed marriage?  The death of a loved one?  A child with an incurable diagnosis?  A ministry that just never quite got off the ground?  Lost your job?  Lost your home?

You likely have experienced a shattered dream of some sort, and if you haven’t you almost certainly will.  None of us can live long upon this earth, without experiencing some level of shattered dreams or broken heart.

Shattered dreams tend to leave us feeling disoriented and incomplete.  For weeks, months or even years, afterwards, we continue to feel like we have a big hole where our heart is supposed to be, and a big emptiness where our sense of purpose once resided.

Several years ago, I was living in a rapidly declining marital relationship.  I had spent many hours in prayer, over the course of several years, petitioning God for relational healing and restoration.  I did see God work in powerful ways, multiple times during the course of that marriage.  However, every step forward (which I met with optimistic enthusiasm) was followed a few months later by two steps back (which fell on me as soul-crushing heart-break).

During the last few years of that ever-declining spiral (which ultimately ended in divorce) I found myself so emotionally drained that I wasn’t even sure how to pray, anymore.  I remember several months of simply praying, “God, please heal me.  I feel so broken and empty.  Please, God, I need your healing touch. How long will you leave me wandering in this wilderness of pain and brokenness?”  Notice that by this point I was no longer even praying for healing of the marriage.  It was all I could do to trust God for my own emotional and spiritual healing.

One morning, during my quiet time, God led me to read the story of Gideon, in Judges 6-8.  After reading how God used Gideon, in a powerful way, to defeat the enemies of Israel, I said, “God, I don’t feel much like Gideon.  I’ve tried to walk in faith and courage, but I haven’t seen the miraculous victories that you gave to Gideon.”

“Who, in this story, do you feel like?” asked God (for the record, I have never, yet, heard God speak to me in an audible voice, and our conversations are seldom as linear as I am relating here.  Nonetheless, we do converse, and this conversation would have been something like this if it had been audible).

“Lord, the only thing I can relate to in this story, right now, are the pitchers that the 300 Israelite warriors smashed when they surprised the surrounded enemy (Judges 7:15-23).  I feel like my heart has been broken and crushed, just like one of those pitchers.”

“Yes, I know,” said the Lord, “And how do you feel about that?”

“How do I feel about it?  I feel hurt!  I feel disappointed!  I feel broken and useless!  How long are you going to leave me like this?  When are you going to heal and restore me, so I can be whole and useful to you, again?”

“Joe,” queried Abba, “Why was it necessary for Gideon to break the pitchers?  Why couldn’t the pitchers be left whole?”

“Lord, the torches were inside the pitchers.  The pitchers had to be broken so the light of the torches could shine out and be seen.”

“Joe, you’re seeing yourself as a pitcher that is no longer useful, because it has been broken.  You need to realize that my design for you is to be a lamp.  Those gaping holes that you keep worrying about, wondering when I’m going to fix them?  I put those there so the light of my glory can shine out from your life, to be seen by others.”

So be it!

He is the potter, who chose me and predestined me for His ministry, before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1:3-6).  He knows His plans for me, plans for hope and a future, not for calamity (Jeremiah 29:11).

The thing is, that is really my heart’s desire, too.  I don’t want to be a pitcher designed for holding and storing.  I want to be a lamp designed for shining the light of God’s glory.

More than anything else, my deepest heart’s desire is to be used of God to touch the lives of others.  If He can somehow use this brokenness to shine the light of His glory?  If people can look at my life and see His glory, instead of my old selfish nature?  Absolutely!  Lord, mold me and use me!

Please, God, make me into a lamp that shines brightly.  Lord, please complete the good work that you have begun in my life!


What shattered dream has left a gaping hole in your soul?


11 thoughts on “Of Shattered Dreams ~ And Broken Pitchers

  1. Thank you, Joe.

    For years, I have longed for my life to feel secure and whole, but God is breaking me open to reveal the light inside.

    I have felt the same broken uselessness.

    This change to a new life and purpose follows the same sequence as the process of dying: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

    The feelings have overlapped and merged as I move from one to the next, but I am reaching acceptance at last.

    The flickering light within me begins to burn as a steady flame.

    Thank you, again, for your powerful parable.

    • Thank you, Larry, for your added insight.

      It truly is a process, and for me, at least, a major turning point was in learning to see God’s hand in the process. He is such a God of consistent contradictions, from a human viewpoint. Who else but Him would allow what appears to be random chaotic suffering, and then show us His hand guiding and growing us thru it all?

      Thank you!

  2. Well, since you ask.. I lost my place, my cars, my girlfriend, my job, my hope, my will to live..let’s just round it off and say I lost pretty much everything. I would have prayed to try and get them back, but I have never really wasted my time with religion. For years, I have been an aimless drifter wandering the US with no direction, but doing a whole lot of soul searching. My travels have led me to a small bible study group in Malibu that has quite simply stolen my heart. For reasons I can’t explain I am drawn to them, and they have somehow managed to convince me to do the one thing that I never imagined I would do in a million years. .open the bible.

    I’m the guy in Jamie VWM’s :”Weird Bible” post who is attempting to read the bible for the first time. Maybe I’m seeking some sort of road to redemption. Maybe I have just decided to be curious all of a sudden. Or maybe I am seeking to fill this “gaping hole” in my soul that you speak of. Whatever the reason, I know one thing to be universally true across the board.

    I’ve got nothing to lose.

    • Wow! Thank you, so much, Nowhere Man, for dropping by and for leaving such an honest comment! That level of honesty is an amazingly good way to approach God.

      I find myself feeling somewhat excited for you!

      Please don’t take that the wrong way. I do understand the pain and heart-break. I won’t insult you by telling you I know how you feel, since I’ve never been exactly where you are right now. However, I have experienced my own share of pain and heart-break.

      My excitement for you is in thinking what it must be like to find yourself, for the first time, hungering for God…and knowing from my own personal experience how powerfully God may respond. While I have no idea what God has in store for you, I do know it will be good…and will be unlike anything you were expecting!

      Based on my personal experience, God has a way of showing little regard for our personal comfort, but places an extremely high value on having a very personal relationship with each of us as individuals.

      I would attempt advice on where to start, but it sounds like God has already started you. Besides, as I discovered on Jamie VWM’s blog, I may be poorly qualified for advice in that area.

      Please keep us posted on your journey!

      Praying for you…and expecting great things for you!

      • Thank you for your very sincere response. The one thing I respect above all else is candor. I’m not sure where this path will take me, but I am hoping that it will be the solution to the indescribable “emptiness” I have felt all of my life.

        Just so I do not get lost on my journey,, I’ve created a separate journal from my travels blog to enlist the aid of others.


        Please, feel free to stop by, all suggestions are welcome.

        I want to learn.

  3. Joe, I was deeply moved by the encouraging message in “Of Shattered Dreams and Broken Pitchers”. I am always in awe of how God reveals himself to us in our times of deepest pain and suffering… and how he eventually uses those times to minister to others. … Thanks for sharing your insight!

  4. Wow..

    I love how God does stuff like this. I felt led to read about Gideon recently as well, and I studied my bible, and tried to do some research, because the torches inside the jars / breaking the jars caught my attention, but I didnt get what God was trying to say, and I made the mistake of moving on through the story instead of stopping and asking Him and getting revelation.

    Got it now, Lord! Right on time, thank you for posting. This so ministered to me. 🙂

    • God truly is amazing in how He orchestrates our learning experiences, isn’t He?

      I often have topics that I have to put on the back burner as knowing there’s more there, that I cannot yet see. Then at some point down the road, I’ll come across the missing puzzle piece needed for it to make sense to me.

      I love when that happens! …and am so pleased to have had a minor role in God doing that for you!

      Thanks for sharing, Krissy!

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