Brokenness for the Christian is a good thing. It reminds you how dependent you are on God, draws you closer to him, causes you to experience how totally helpless you are in your own strength and humbles you.
Given all the benefits that are derived from brokenness and having experienced much brokenness myself, in this life thus far, I have come to realize that it is perhaps one of the greatest blessings in the life of a Christian. For, it is necessary for the Christian who wishes to grow in intimacy with the Lord, free from pride, self-righteousness and a mere theoretical understanding of who God is. It is also an excellent preparation tool, as it equips Christians to be used mightily by God, both through and after that period of brokenness, to do great exploits for his Kingdom.
For Christians that have been sorely broken by God in life, where their brokenness may have lasted weeks, months and even years, their lens are adjusted in such a way that life looks a bit different to them, than for a Christian who has not yet experienced this.
Indeed, sometimes, it is possible for a Christian that has been through much storm, adversity, persecution, chastening and peril, to look at a fellow Christian and to discern that what he needs to get out of his state of slumber, lukewarm mentality, nonchalance and complacency is some brokenness or what one needs to put away childishness and pettiness is some God-appointed brokenness or what another needs to be delivered from his pride, haughtiness and self-righteousness is a good dose of brokenness or what a brother or sister needs to be free from the increasing confidence he is placing in his own intellect, human ability, sense of reasoning and human effort is brokenness or what a Christian needs to become sober when he seems to be veering down the path of worldly intoxication and futility is brokenness.
As Vance Havner once stated:
- “God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.”
Brokenness I think is often underestimated and even shunned by God’s people, as something they wish to avoid at all costs. Some even shun the people that God is in the process of breaking, not wanting anything to do with them because the idea of being broken is so undesirable.
All this is understandable, as when God breaks a person, it tends to be painful and can even be humiliating and isolating. However, what I’ve come to learn from my own experiences is that through your brokenness, things not good for your spiritual advancement tend to get broken off. When you are brought to your knees, you look up more earnestly. You gain a level of appreciation for God’s power and might and a better understanding of your weakness and impotence in comparison. You tend to pray more effectually and fervently, no longer using vain words and repetition but actually crying out to God in your situation, your heart fully engaged in what you are saying and your petition.
As the pressure mounts, you also find (like a pressure cooker that sings when the heat is at its highest), that you are bursting out in songs of praise birthed from your spirit, no longer just from your lips but from a heart that is more closely attuned to hear God’s voice. Even fasting, which you thought you would possibly never be able to do because you love food so much and have been so accustomed to a life of comfort, you do, out of desperation and necessity. For, you realize that having God intervene in your circumstances is more important than appeasing your appetite.
On the whole, I can say from my own experience, that God uses your brokenness to grow you spiritually, to take you from just a theoretical understanding of him based on what you’ve read in the Bible, to a real, every day, intimate experience and walk with him, sustaining you, keeping you, upholding you and strengthening you through your storm, which he sits as King over.
In those moments, God has a tendency to remove your support systems, even allowing people close to you to abandon you, so that it will be just you and him on your tumultuous journey. You are taken from immaturity to greater maturity and in your brokenness, you grow exponentially (once you submit to the Lord), in grace and knowledge of your King.
The things of time and sense that seemed to be so important before, like the earthly routine of running after a career, getting a spouse, getting and storing up money and all of life’s mundane things, now fade in comparison. For, your spiritual sight now is much clearer than before, your face now set as a flint to advance and pursue after the Kingdom of God and his righteousness FIRST, over your own earthly agenda and comfort.
Yes, brokenness, when it is allowed by God in the life of a Believer is good. For, it usually breaks off what needs to be broken and brings one to his or her senses.
Indeed, brokenness is a tool that God has often used in the Bible days, as preparation for his servants, who he intended to operate mightily through at a future time.
Moses for example, spent years in exile in Midian, away from the comfort and luxuries of Egypt that he had been used to as the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter, until God was ready to use him.
David, who had been anointed by God to be the next king of Israel, spent time running from king Saul and crying out to God in caves, broken, tired, sometimes feeling overwhelmed and at his wits end, before God was ready to put him on the throne.
Even Joseph suffered tremendously and was broken in humiliating ways before he was promoted by God for his divine purposes, as the second in command in Egypt. He went from being placed in a pit, to being sold to strangers by his own brothers, to being taken to a foreign land (Egypt), to being sold again as a slave, to working hard as a slave, only to be accused of a grave offence he did not commit, sent to prison for that very offence and then staying there for years and years before God decided it was time to take him out.
I have heard it said, that who God wishes to use in a great way, he usually breaks and I believe that in most cases, this is true. For, like a balloon that needs to be pierced in order for empty air to come out, God usually deflates the ego, the pride, the pettiness, the mindless distractions and our sense of self focus, before he uses us to do a great work.
Brokenness brings suffering to the one being broken and suffering (whether caused by a Christian’s own disobedience or not) is definitely a tool that God uses in the life of Christians, to mould, chisel and shape them how he wants them to be and to ensure that they are humble, a virtue that God loves and loves to operate through.
When Christians have been broken, they tend to point the glory not to themselves but to God. They tend to want no attention drawn to themselves but all to be pointed in the direction of Jesus Christ, the only one worthy of exaltation and praise. They boast of nothing and no ability within themselves but spend their lives praising God for his everlasting strength, his great mercy and faithfulness. For, they’ve been to hell and back (so to speak) and know first-hand, that it was God who preserved them in their valley season, when everything in their lives seemed dark, sterile, lonely, scary, hopeless and when the enemy waged aggressive attacks against them, to try to destroy them.
They therefore willingly, passionately accept the role of servant and see their lives as serving no other purpose than to be in service to their King. For, they are people that will never forget where they came from, what they’ve been through, the intense pain they’ve endured and what God brought them out of. As humble servants, as they reflect and meditate on the past, they have resolved to forever sing the Lord’s praises and declare his goodness upon the housetops.
Like David, they declare, from the very depth of their heart:
- “I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 40:1-3)
Their hearts overflowing with a lifetime of gratitude, they also proclaim as the Psalmist did in Psalms 116:
- “I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live. The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of the Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul.
- Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. The Lord preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me. Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.
- I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted: I said in my haste, All men are liars.
- What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.
- O Lord, truly I AM THY SERVANT; I AM THY SERVANT, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds. I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people. In the courts of the Lord’s house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the Lord.”
(Written on 25th July, 2020, added to thereafter)
Today, I read about Manessah, the son of Hezekiah the king. Hezekiah his father aimed to please God in his life and feared him. When he died though and Manessah took the throne, he did not follow in the footsteps of his father and serve God but the Bible says he did that which was evil in his sight. He sinned and caused the people of Judah who where under his leadership, to sin, by embracing and encouraging the worship of false gods, which was idolatry.
In his pride, he turned his back on God and operated as if he could not be moved and as if God could not touch him, so much so, that he ignored God’s warning of judgment and his call for repentance. God therefore caused him and the people to be taken away captive to Babylon, where he suffered tremendously.
He could have killed him, as he had allowed to be done to many other kings but in his mercy, he decide instead to break him, to send him adversity and suffering, so that he would be humbled in his brokenness and repent of his great wickedness.
And Manessah did. His story is therefore a good illustration of what God is able to achieve when he breaks us, for his glory. It demonstrates beautifully, how a man’s perspective changes after he has been broken by the Lord, him realizing that his sole purpose in life is not to promote his own glory or to do his own pleasure but to serve him as his servant.
2 Chronicles 33:9-16 reads:
- “So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the Lord had destroyed before the children of Israel. And the Lord spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken. Wherefore the Lord brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. And when he was in affliction, he besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord he was God.
- Now after this he built a wall without the city of David, on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, even to the entering in at the fish gate, and compassed about Ophel, and raised it up a very great height, and put captains of war in all the fenced cities of Judah. And he took away the strange gods, and the idol out of the house of the Lord, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the Lord, and in Jerusalem, and cast them out of the city. And he repaired the altar of the Lord, and sacrificed thereon peace offerings and thank offerings, and commanded Judah to serve the Lord God of Israel.”
One thing is for certain: When God decides to break his children because they have been stubbornly rebellious and disobedient, he often brings them low and exposes them to excruciating pain and suffering. But having been through it myself and therefore able to talk about it firsthand, I can attest that such brokenness is always worth it. It is an excellent tool that God reserves the right to use, to bring us to our senses.
(Addendum written on 7th October, 2023)
Today, 7th October, 2023, more than three years after I had written the Article on brokenness above, I heard part of a Sermon from Vance Havner, which he had preached many years ago. In commenting on adversity in the Christian’s life and the beautiful fruit it often harvests, he made reference to Psalm 84, which reads: “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them. Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well…”. (vs. 5-6).
Brother Havner said:
“And then I found in Psalm 84:6, about the man who walking through the valley of Baca, makes it a well. There’s a song out: “Leave a Well in the Valley”. I’ve never heard it yet but I’ve seen it. I believe that when God sends trouble our way, we ought to dig a well for the next traveller, instead of bemoaning everything and pitying ourselves.
I think of Fanny Crosby. If anybody had occasion to grumble at God, she did. Why did they put the wrong poultice on her eyes when she was a baby and blinded her for ninety years? Couldn’t she have fussed with God? But instead of that, she started digging wells:
“To God Be The Glory”, “Blessed Assurance”, “Redeemed”, “How I Love To Proclaim It”, “All The Way My Saviour Leads Me”, “Draw Me Nearer”, “Jesus Keep Me Near The Cross”, “He Hideth My Soul”, “Jesus Is Tenderly Calling”, “Saviour More Than Life To Me”, “When Jesus Comes To Reward His Servants”, “Rescue The Perishing”, “Someday The Silver Chord Will Break”, “I Shall Know Him”, “Pass Me Not O Gentle Saviour”.
That’s just a few of the wells. And there’s not a Sunday goes by but that somewhere in America, we’re singing, we’re drinking from those wells.
And I think of that dear man who was staying at home alone, while his wife and two daughters had gone on a trip to Europe. And then came that awful telegram from his wife: “I have been rescued in the shipwreck but the girls are lost.”
And he sat there, transfixed, numb, he couldn’t move for a few moments. And then his hand reached out for pad and pencil: “When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well, with my soul.”
(2nd Addendum written on 7th October, 2023)