A couple of months back when we were in the very beginnings of this pandemic, I read about a Japanese form of artwork called Kintsugi, which literally means “golden joining.” It essentially is a way to repair broken pottery by creating a new piece of art. The legend is that a 15th century Japanese shogun accidentally broke his favorite ceramic tea bowl and needed to have it repaired. Back then, they would send broken valuable pottery to China to have it repaired. So that is what the shogun did. However, upon its return, the shogun was unhappy to find that it had been mended with unsightly metal staples. So, he turned to a local Japanese craftsman to have it repaired.
What this craftsman did to repair it was mix 21 karat gold into the adhesive glue and put the tea bowl back together. The Japanese shogun was overwhelmed. The remade bowl was exponentially more valuable than the original bowl. The bowl become more beautiful after it had been broken and repaired. And the Japanese technique of artwork, Kintsugi was born. It is through brokenness that an ordinary piece is turned into something more valuable and precious.
Have you ever considered that one day, when we are on the other side of this virus threat, that we will emerge from this transformed? Stronger, more valuable, more precious in our own unique way than we were before this time. Just like a Kintsugi bowl. Through our suffering we are made stronger.
When the virus threat has finally subsided, we will be people who before it, were fearful, in despair, finding little hope in the world, and then afterwards, are transformed to people who are faithful, trusting in the power of God, and radiating the hope that we have through Jesus Christ.
When will this threat has subside? When will our suffering end? These are the big questions. Yet, it is remarkable how Scripture written a couple of centuries ago, speaks to us today. Peter in his writing in the book of 1 Peter, is writing to a people who are in despair and finding little hope in their existence. In the very first verse of 1 Peter, the Apostle Peter greets his readers as those exiles of the Dispersion, those who have been scattered across their land—those in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. Can we relate to this, those of us who feel dispersed like exiles—exiles of the dispersion, in Brandon, Valrico, Lithia, Riverview, and Tampa? Peter is writing to those who are suffering. And what does he say about their suffering? First, he writes to them as he writes to us, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Then he speaks to their suffering. In 1:6 he writes, “even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials.” Our suffering will be for a little while. In our present time, it sure seems like we have been in this for the long run. Yet, all suffering has a beginning, a middle, and an end. And in all things, there is hope.
Through this virus threat we may be broken, shattered. We are suffering and struggling through this painful ordeal. Yet we know that suffering can transform us, and we can have hope and new life through the life-giving resurrection of Jesus Christ.
I close with these words from 1 Peter 5:9-10, these words that speak to us today in our time, “ Be steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.”