But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
— 2 Corinthians 4:7
The past fifteen months have been tough. You may have lost family or friends from the coronavirus. You may have been hit hard by the worst economy since the Great Depression. You may have felt caged in, vulnerable to deeper levels of emotional distress. Our friends in Japan have been struggling with these same issues; the recent jump in their suicide rate is a heart-breaking illustration of these realities.
As Japan struggles with pandemic realities, they have been hit with additional burdens. First, on March 11, they are approaching the 10-year anniversary of the horrifying Triple Disaster of 2011—earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear-plant breakdown. And just a couple of weeks ago, Japan suffered another major earthquake near the epicenter of the devastating quake of 10 years ago.
As I’ve pondered this 10-year anniversary, even on the heels of another terrifying earthquake, I’m reminded of the power of the Gospel and how God makes beautiful things out of broken ones. As the passage above states, we are a treasure from God—albeit one made from clay. Later in the same book, we are reminded that it is in weakness that we are made strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-11).
Golden Patchwork: Melding Broken Pieces Back Together
The Japanese art of Kintsugi captures this reality in a deeply meaningful manner. Kintsugi means golden patchwork; in this art form, broken pieces of pottery are melded back together with gold. It’s such a powerful picture of the Gospel and of my life that I have one sitting on my desk here at home (pictured here).
As I reflect on that fateful day 10 years ago and the fear it created across Japan, I am mindful of the beautiful things God has created in His Kintsugi fashion. People around the world and across Japan rallied to bring hope to those who had lost everything. Jesus became the golden patchwork, placing His treasure in so many jars of clay. While we still mourn the deep losses of that tragedy, we also aspire to the hope Christ brought to the country, and the way that churches rallied and became points of light across the region.
Today, because of that awful tragedy, I have the privilege of sitting on the board of the Nozomi Project, which was birthed out of the disaster. Today, the project is bringing hope to women who had lost everything--and in a manner that both reflect these Bible passages and the concept of Kintsugi. These women take broken pieces of pottery and, from those pieces, form beautiful pieces of jewelry that people wear around the world today. It’s inspiring.
So, in the midst of our pain and loss, as the pandemic continues to affect our lives, I pray you can experience the healing touch of Christ and His beauty in our brokenness. I pray that His golden patchwork comes into your jar of clay like it has mine. May we be encouraged by the work of God in our lives making broken things beautiful in that wonderful Kintsugi fashion.
In the coming days, to remember this 10-year milestone, we will post reflections from various Asian Access staff. Continue to pray with us for Japan and its dear people.
Grace to you. I’m praying for you!
Rev. Joseph W. Handley, Jr., Ph.D.
President, Asian Access
- See other staff members' related reflections on Japan's Triple Disaster
- Eric Takamoto: Transformation Through Tragedy
- Dan & Casi Brown: Remembering 3.11 and the Gospel of Hope
- Kent Muhling: Learning to Be Good News
- Yoshiya Hari: Groundbreaking Shifts Resulting from Japan's Triple Disaster
- Reflections during the first year following the 3.11 Disaster: https://asianaccess.org/reflections
- Video clips on the Triple Disaster...