The two words don’t seem to go together. If anything, they seem to be exact opposites.
We all know what it means to be broken — to be shattered, to feel as if our entire world has fallen apart, or perhaps been blown apart. We all have times in our lives when we don’t want to raise our heads off the pillow, and when we feel certain the tears will never stop flowing. Brokenness is often accompanied by emptiness — a void that cannot be filled, a sorrow that cannot be comforted, a wound for which there is no balm.
Nothing feels blessed about being broken. The most painful and difficult times of my life have been those times when I felt broken. I don’t like pain, suffering, or feelings of brokenness any more than anybody else does. Certain circumstances in life hurt, at times so intensely that we think we will never heal.
One of the things I have discovered through being broken, however, is that after brokenness we can experience God’s greatest blessings. After brokenness our lives can be the most fruitful and have the most purpose. The dawn after a very dark and storm-wreaked night is glorious. Feeling joy again after a period of intense mourning can be ecstatic. A blessing can come in the wake of being broken.
But this blessing comes only if we experience brokenness fully and confront why it is that God has allowed us to be broken. If we allow God to do his complete work in us, blessing will follow brokenness.
Running From or Facing the Pain?
Most people do not understand what the Bible teaches about brokenness; therefore, the last thing they want in life is to experience it. Rather, they spare no effort in running from brokenness.
In a time when we hear so much talk about prosperity, about God’s healing our illness, about God’s desiring our happiness, the message of brokenness does not appeal to many people. In fact, it only appeals to those who want God’s best!
Why do I say that?
Because God is in the process of changing what we desire, far more than he is in the process of giving us what we desire. God is refining us, fashioning us, and making us into the people with whom he wants to live forever.
God didn’t create us to give us our every whim and wish, but rather, to bring us to the position where we will want to do whatever God desires. He created us for himself.
If I asked you, “Do you really want God’s best for your life?” I feel confident that you would say, “Yes, of course!”
If I asked you, “Do you truly want to become who God predesigned you to become before you were born?” you would probably say, “Absolutely!”
If I asked you, “Are you willing for God to do anything necessary to bring you to total surrender so that he is free to accomplish all that he wants to do for you and all he wants to make out of you?” I wonder what your response might be.
To have God’s very best, we must be willing to submit our all to him, so that God’s Holy Spirit so compellingly and overwhelmingly guides us that we are living, walking expressions of the Lord Jesus Christ on the earth today.
This state does not come easily. Even when we yield ourselves fully and completely to God, we are still being refined. Refinement occurs over time and through a myriad of circumstances and situations. No person arrives “fully formed” as a mature Christian the instant he or she accepts Christ Jesus as Savior. We become new creatures spiritually, but we must grow up into the nature of Christ. Growth is a process — one that includes setbacks, failures, hard lessons, and yes, brokenness. Our growth includes not only a spiritual growth, but a renewal of our minds and emotions.
Old habits are not easily changed. Old desires cling to us in spite of our efforts to remove them from our hearts and minds. Old patterns of responding die hard. In many cases, old relationships must be renewed or redefined. Sometimes others whom we love dearly don’t seem to grow spiritually as fast as we might desire, or as quickly as we ourselves grow.
Even in our most pliable and compliant state, we also suffer from never fully knowing our own selves and, therefore, never fully knowing the extent of our own sin. In many ways, we do not see our own dark side. We may think we have repented of every sin, only to have God reveal to us yet another area of our life that needs to be subjected to his forgiving love, cleansed, and then changed, healed, or renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Again and again, we find ourselves being broken in order that our old nature might be chipped away, a rough spot in our character might be sanded, or an unknown talent might be revealed.
The process is painful and difficult.
Nevertheless, it is good.
Brokenness is not something to be shunned or avoided at all cost. Rather, it is something to be faced with faith. If we truly want to be all that God designed us to be, and therefore all that God desires for us to be, we must submit to him during times of brokenness and allow him to reveal to us why we are going through what it is we are experiencing and what he desires for us to learn from the situation.
A Perfect Vessel
One day the Lord spoke to the prophet Jeremiah:
“Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.
Then the word of the LORD came to me … “Can I not do with you as this potter does?… Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand.” (Jeremiah 18:2?6)
From The Blessings of Brokenness, Copyright © 2004 by Charles Stanley and published by Zondervan. Used with permission.