God’s Surprising Ways

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Young people today often wear ripped and tattered jeans. To them the damaged jeans are not ruined— they have character. This fashion statement is part of a larger trend about which Amy Peterson wrote in the October 20, 2020, edition of Our Daily Bread. She described a group from the Netherlands who offered a workshop on fashion design called, “Golden Joinery.”

This fashion idea is not original. It can be traced back hundreds of years to the Japanese who called it Kintsugi, a technique which fixes broken porcelain with gold. What makes Kintsugi so unique is that instead of concealing the repairs, they are highlighted. In “Golden Joinery” people bring beloved clothing in need of mending. The needed repair is viewed as a “golden scar.”

The Apostle Paul described something similar when he wrote about his own experience in scripture. He said, “…to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9, NLT)

The idea of “Golden Joinery” sounds a lot like what God told Paul, that his power works best in our weakness. God’s supremacy when applied to our inferiority has the potential to turn our bruises into blessings as God demonstrates his strength in the very areas where we are weak. This is the point Paul made when he said he would “boast” about his weakness.

Peterson describes it this way, “Just as the rips and tears in old clothes can become sights of beauty as they’re remade by designers, the broken and weak places in our lives can become places where God’s power and glory may shine. He holds us together, transforms us, and makes our weaknesses beautiful.”

I love Peterson’s statement and it closely aligns with what my good friend, Kelly Ryan, who is afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis related to me this year. She said one of the most important lessons she learned in 2021 is how her MS has become the very area where God most often uses her.

I can relate. It is frequently the areas where I am most aware of my inadequacies that God surprises me by using my weaknesses to help others. This should not surprise me, but it often does. As we prepare to begin the New Year, take comfort in the fact that God may use your vulnerabilities in ways you could never imagine.

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