The Broken Christian“Deliverance can come to us only by the defeat of our old life. Safety and peace come only after we have been forced to our knees. God rescues us by breaking us, by shattering our strength and wiping out our resistance.” — A. W. Tozer“The brokenness of spirit which makes no resistance to the Father’s hand is a main element of fertility in souls wherein He works. It is not power He seeks from us, but weakness; not resistant force, but ‘yieldingness’ to Him. All power is His: His strength is perfected in weakness.” — William MacDonald “When we are consciously aware of being used as broken bread and poured out wine, we have yet another level to reach – a level where all awareness of ourselves and what God is doing through us is completely eliminated. A saint is never consciously a saint – a saint is consciously dependent on God.” — Oswald Chambers
Brokenness, Pain And Sadness
The breaking process is often painful. Prior to His death Jesus told His disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” Then He prayed: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will” (Mt. 26:28,39). Even our Lord, who was willing to suffer, expressed His preference to avoid pain.
Again and again, we find the psalmist turning to God in times of sorrow and pain. “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?” (Ps. 13:2). “Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief” (Ps. 31:9). “My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to Your word” (Ps. 119:28).
The apostle Paul, who wrote much about joy, also had painful periods in his ministry. He wrote: “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart” (Rom. 9:2). Yet we must learn to distinguish between the pain and sorrow that the Lord uses to break us so that we may grow, and worldly pain and sorrow. Paul summed it up this way: “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Cor. 7:10). Worldly sorrow breeds self-pity, depression and even bitterness. The broken Christian will experience periods of pain and sadness, but the dominant tone of his life should be gratitude and joy.
Brokenness, Purpose And Action
Brokenness involves bold denial of our ungodly desires. It involves deliberate surrender, obedience and self-control. The broken Christian not only acts with purpose, but his service and ministry are energized by a different source – Christ’s “power that is at work within us” (Eph. 3:20). Our Father patiently works at breaking everything that obstructs the flow of His power in our lives.
Brokenness, Commitment And Relationships
How can we spot a broken Christian? Brokenness affects all areas of life. A broken Christian takes God’s Word seriously and obeys it. He is committed to the Church and his ministry. He loves and worships the Lord. But there is no simpler place to notice the effects of brokenness than in interpersonal relationships. Broken saints learn to repay evil with good. They don’t retaliate. They seek out and talk about what is good and Christ-like in others, even those they may disagree with. When they become aware that they have hurt another, they repent, confess and apologize. When they have been hurt by another, they give the other the benefit of the doubt.
Aware of their own sinful nature and how much they have been forgiven, they do not delay in forgiving others. They feel sorry for rather than irritated by stubborn and selfish people. They keep 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 always in mind: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
Brokenness, Reality And Influence
Those who have experienced God’s brokenness, are more likely to see God’s hand in other difficult situations; they can remain calm and hopeful in times of crisis. Broken Christians may hold important positions, but they do not depend on them. With grace they can let go of status. The life of a broken Christian is more attractive because it is genuine. Others allow themselves to be influenced by brokenness because it does not demand attention, it does not impose itself, it does not assume greatness. Broken saints are not afraid of the opinion of others because they are not trying to be popular. They do not seek conflict, but neither do they run away from it. They are willing and available to be used by the Lord as peacemakers. They can be helpful and firm, gentle and meek.
Healing The Brokenhearted
The Lord is not detached from the suffering of His people. Jesus felt the pain of Mary and Martha at the graveside of their brother. He was moved to tears, even though He knew that Lazarus would soon come to life again. Our Lord showed that He felt the pain of the Christians persecuted by Saul when He said, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” (Acts 9:4). Our Lord understands that “heartache crushes the spirit” (Pr. 15:13). Therefore we also read that “the LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Ps. 34:18), and “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Ps. 147:3).
When we are brokenhearted the Lord is close to us, feels our pain and desires to heal us (Lk. 4:18). As to how and when, He knows best. When we trust Him we can experience His peace during the breaking and the healing process. Surely the promise of the Lord Himself holds true: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (Jn. 14:27).
The Goal: Christ-Likeness
Sometimes we understand what He is trying to achieve in our life, and sometimes we simply “cannot understand the work of God” (Eccl. 11:5). In those moments, when pain and darkness combine, when everything in us demands relief, change, or at least a good explanation, when we feel like giving up, running away or simply becoming hard, we must force ourselves to trust Him. He works calmly and lovingly with a glorious purpose, “until Christ is formed in you” (Gal. 4:19). We have been “predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son” (Rom. 8:28- 29). Are we making progress? Paul was confident “that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6). The Lord will not give up on us. He will not avoid using pain when pain is needed. But He will not allow more pain than what is necessary to achieve His goal. Deep inside we know that we need breaking. But only if we really trust Him will we ever pray, “Lord, break me!”
The secular world values the strong, forceful ones who get things done. Our Lord values the humble, gentle and meek (Mt. 5:3-11). Our strong opinions, preferences and traditions often hinder the development of God’s plans for our life. He wants to see more of Christ in the life of every Christian, and therefore He sets out to break that which gets in the way. He wants to break that sin which enslaves us, the lies that distort our vision, those fears that hold us back, those earthly dreams and passions that will lessen our impact.
Once wild horses are broken in, they wait, listen, follow instructions and become useful to their Master. Such horses know when to run and when to stop. Has our strong will been broken yet? Are we still trying to serve the Lord on our own terms? We all need to be broken. We all need to be made small.
D. L. Moody said, “We may easily be too big for God to use, but never too small.” It is when we feel weak, lost and lonely – when we feel broken – that we become really conscious of our need for God’s grace. When we are broken we will value and believe the Lord’s words: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” In time we will share Paul’s experience and conclude: “For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:9-10). Perhaps a day will come when we will look back and wonder why it took us so long to earnestly pray, “Lord, break me!”
By Philip Nunn
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org