Last night (more accurately, early this morning) part of the chimney on our house collapsed. We were roused from sweet sleep by a thundering, crashing noise that made no sense at all. As we tried to fathom what had made the noise and attempted to make sense of the commotion, we discovered bricks from the chimney had fallen, crashing onto the pavement at the front of the house and shattering the conservatory roof in places at the back.

It was dark and difficult to see exactly what had happened; we had to pick up the broken bricks and try to made things tidier. There is still much to be sorted and fixed, for clearly the chimney is unstable and needs urgent attention. As I lay in bed an hour later, half-fearful of going back to sleep in case the collapse continued and further damage was done, I thought about the fragility of life and how circumstances can easily shatter our confidence and trust.

A broken relationship out of nowhere, smashing our confidence and self-esteem just like the smashed conservatory.

A job loss or financial difficulty, shattering our normality and causing us to despair.

The diagnosis of an illness crushing our hopes and dreams and leaving us in cold fear and dread.

Things always seem worse at night. Our fears and anxieties seem magnified. There was little we could practically do until daylight came, insurance companies contacted, builders called out, so the night time frequently becomes a mirror of the helplessness and impotence we often feel in life.

As we picked up broken pieces and gave thanks that this had actually happened at night, imagining what would have happened to an innocent passer-by if they had been struck by a brick, I was reminded of the song: “You assemble all our broken, shattered pieces, more beautiful than I have ever known.” (Aaron Shust, ‘Long Live the King’)

There seems little beauty in the disasters that crash into our lives. But I am encouraged because we have a Saviour who picks up every broken piece by hand. He allows the dirt on the pieces to soil His hands. He allows the shards of brokenness to make His hands bleed. His hands know all about wounds and scars. And He weeps with those who weep, this Man of Sorrows, who is familiar and acquainted with sorrow and pain and suffering. He is able to sympathise and empathise with us in our weaknesses and sorrows because He has walked on this earth and know what pain is. But He is also able to heal, to restore, to make something beautiful from the ashes of the disasters that happen. He is good.