The very mention of the word “brokenness” causes many Christians to shudder inside, though they may nod their heads agreeing that it is something spiritually necessary. While Scripture makes it clear that this process is essential for optimum spiritual growth, as well as fruitfulness, there remains quite a bit of uncertainty and confusion regarding it.
Brokenness in Scripture
Romans 8:13 makes a startling statement directed at every Christian when it says, “For if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” A cursory reading of it sounds like God is saying that if you are constantly sinning, that is living according to the flesh, God is going to take you to heaven sooner than you thought! But this is not the meaning at all. He is letting us know that because of His great love for us, He is not going to permit us to keep using our flesh to cope with life. He has provided a way of coping with life which is much much better. It is Jesus Christ in us.
What Brokenness is NOT
Brokenness is not suffering. Though suffering is often used by our DAD to bring us to brokenness, suffering alone is not brokenness. At GLI, we often hear people tell us they have been broken, when what they really mean is that they have been through a hellacious time of suffering. It may be a divorce, a tough marriage, a rebellious child, joblessness, money problems, a family blow up, continuous feelings of low self-esteem and inadequacy, depression, constant worry, habitual sexual sin, unresolved anger and bitterness, major disappointment, illness, adultery or other problems. When we hear the pain of these legitimate sufferings, we listen compassionately. However, we also realize that though these are no guarantee of brokenness, they can be the vehicle the Holy Spirit uses to bring them to brokenness.
Brokenness is not unresolved pain. Today it is common to hear someone say that they are sexually, emotionally, relationally or some other type of “broken” because of events in their past, which are causing negative consequences in their present. At GLI, we understand what they mean and don’t deny that they are in pain. We also realize they are stuck in patterns that are causing dysfunction. Yet, this is not the kind of brokenness spoken of in Scripture. Having said that, we see people in our counseling with those types of issues. We see them receive great healing from Jesus when they begin to experience Him as their Life, on the other side of spiritual brokenness.
What Brokenness IS
- A growing awareness that no matter how hard I try, my ability to make my life work is getting worse instead of better.
- An orchestrated work of God who loves me too much to permit my fleshly coping mechanisms to keep working for me.
- The results of the Holy Spirit moving me to the other side of brokenness so that I am changed by Him, not by my efforts.
- A growing experience of the reality of my union with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.
- Not a one-time event. Though many people in our ministry can point to a time when the process of brokenness brought about a huge spiritual paradigm shift in them, they eventually realize that there are other “miniature versions” of brokenness as part of their ongoing conformity to the image of Christ. See Romans 8:28-29.
How do you know if you are broken? True brokenness from God will produce lasting transformation in us. This is a result of a type of death in which our reliance on our flesh is exchanged for reliance on Christ in us, not only as our Savior and Lord, but our Life. Colossians 4:4 says it this way, “When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”
My personal brokenness – Every person on our staff has an amazing story of their own brokenness. I wish I could share each of those 35 stories with you. But for now, I will give you the brief version of my own.
I remember thinking one day that my life had become like our kitchen table I was staring at. I imagined that one by one, the legs on the table were being removed in the same way all of the things in my life seemed to have been removed. My friends had vanished, my goal of starting a growing church was failing, my ability to overcome sin was ineffective, and my relationship with God was stressful. These deficits had been mounting for quite some time, culminating in me to finally telling my wife, “If this is all there is to being a Christian, it doesn’t work.” I think my Father was smiling with joy knowing that I was finally where he wanted me – broken. It was there that He revealed Christ in me. It was in such a dramatic way that I had never felt the depth of His love as I did then. That is when everything began to change and my transformation received a ginormous jump start.
What to do – Tell God you know that He loves you, so you are giving Him your permission to do anything He wants to bring you to brokenness. Already experienced that initial brokenness? Have you asked Him to bring your family members to brokenness? How about your children – a tough one to pray? And if you believe you need help walking through your own brokenness, contact us. We’ve been there and we can help you or refer you to someone else in your area who can.
Are you experiencing brokenness? Let us help. Click on a button below to learn more about personal counseling or attend our life-transforming Grace Life Conference.
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