These past few weeks I’ve had quite a few talks with people about what brokenness really is. What does it mean to be broken? And is it a positive thing to be broken?
I am well aware that in regular English something that’s broken isn’t a positive thing. Right now our beloved car is in a body and paint shop, because it’s broken. It needs to be fixed to function properly again. Also, when we talk about people, ‘a broken person’ often means somebody where something devastating has happened to them, and they barely know how to get up in the morning. Maybe their spouse or child died, and they just don’t seem to be able to find many reasons to live, and have in most ways lost hope.
Obviously, I think of something and somebody very different when I think, talk and teach about brokenness and what it means to be a broken person. Anybody in the Bible who is significant enough to be mentioned several times and had positive outcomes of their lives went through brokenness-experiences and came out as broken people ready to live and serve God in powerful, grace-filled ways. It would take too much space to go through all of them, but everyone from Moses, Abraham, Jacob, and David to Peter, John, Paul, and countless others of the heroes of faith in the Bible went through brokenness and show us what it means, in what I believe is a biblical understanding, to be a broken person.
Brokenness is a process we go through, and it can take a few years or it can take decades, where God exposes our fleshly attempts to live life, to have our core needs of love, acceptance, worth, and security met in our own strength, and he shows how it is truly impossible to live the Christian life we want to live and make a radical difference in this world as long as we attempt to do it in our own strength and based on our own understanding and wisdom.
Brokenness is God’s gift to us where he exposes our sandcastles and causes them to fall, so we can learn to rest in who we are in him, and who he is, and build our houses on the only solid foundation of Christ.
Brokenness is necessarily painful, because ever since Adam and Eve fell in the Garden of Eden all human beings ever born have an inbuilt desire to rebel against God, and try to meet our needs in our own ways. We struggle to surrender control, and we often don’t understand, even as Christians, that we truly are free to live the lives we want only when Christ is in control, and I just rest in him (John 15). Therefore God has to use all kinds of ways to encourage and invite us to surrender to him, and his love. But we must always remember that God doesn’t desire for us to surrender to his power, but to his love and kindness (Romans 2:4).
I’ll split this up in two entries and stop this one here. In my next blog entry, I’ll talk about characteristics of a truly, broken person that God delights in and loves people through!