What does it mean to be broken? It’s a term people use when they feel down or depressed. It’s also a term used in churches for when we show empathy for others. Is it good, is it bad, or what is it, exactly, to be broken? I believe it is the state Christians should live in for the purpose of being moldable by God. I’ve experienced a few different perspectives on the idea of brokenness, myself.
The first time I ever remember feeling this was back in college, when I had a professor show me how there were multiple cures for certain cancers that were patented and being sat on so someone could make money. He showed me how drug companies run the whole health system and this professor showed me how many great advances in medicine were used to create recreational drugs that killed people. All that I could think about for days was that no matter what good I do, someone will use it for evil.
Then I came across this song by Gungor, called “Beautiful Things”. The song begins by questioning all the pain and evil in the world and whether God can really raise it all up from the dust. Then the chorus proclaims the good news that God makes beautiful things out of the dust and out of people. Upon hearing this, God clearly spoke to me, whilst I was tearing up outside at UNCW in the dark, with these beautiful, golden street lamps – painting the most melancholy picture possible for what He was about to tell me. He told me that He made beautiful things out of the dirt and out of us so that no one could question if their situation, or the world’s situation, was too bad for Him to work with. God waits for us to become like dirt and for our situations to become like dirt; He waits for us to feel like dirt so He can make something beautiful, and that’s what it means to be broken.
He waits for us to feel like dirt so He can make something beautiful, and that’s what it means to be broken.
I think about Lego’s (which in turn makes me think of the Lego Bible because it’s hilarious to me). If, in a box set of Lego’s, we got just one big Lego that can’t be broken down then we cannot make whatever is on the picture on the box. We need it to be in pieces, broken down, so that we can build what is on the box. God similarly needs us to be broken, or to be willing to be broken, so that He can build whatever His image for us is. We can never be whom we are meant to be, unless we are first broken. We either have to be broken by what’s around us, broken by life circumstances, or we are just as useless as a single block of Lego that won’t be broken down. We must come in pieces before God!
We either have to be broken by what’s around us, broken by life circumstances, or we are just as useless as a single block of Lego that won’t be broken down. We must come in pieces before God!
The Bible is filled with stories of broken people. Joseph was thrown in a pit by his own brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused of rape, and thrown in jail for multiple years. Joseph was broken by circumstances and God used that to take him from that jail and put him near the pharaoh so that he could save the lineage of his father, the lineage where Christ would eventually emerge from – from which we are all saved. Daniel was thrown to the lions so that he could earn the king’s respect and God receive the glory, which all happened because his circumstances sucked and he was broken before God. Even Jesus, whom both Daniel and Joseph pointed to, was broken. In Luke 22, we see Jesus praying that God would keep him from the pain of the crucifixion, but he had to endure it. Jesus’ body and spirit was broken before God so that we could all be saved – so that God could make something beautiful out of us. And this is exactly what Jesus calls us all to do when He commands us to carry our crosses in Luke 9:23. Christ told us they would hate us and persecute us and that it was all for the kingdom. We are told that to be Christian is to be broken.
To be Christian is to be broken.
In first John 4:9, we are told to live in love and the word for “live” is “zao,” in the original Greek. This is a word for being caused to be alive and continuing to live in. In Revelation 21:5, we are told that Christ has made all things new and is continuing to do so. In order for Him to keep renewing us, we must come to Him in pieces, broken. In the song, “Beautiful Things”, they claim that He makes us new and is making us new. This is what happens when we are broken, either by circumstance or by what we see in the world.
Last month, we talked about Esther and that book was part of a trilogy in the Bible preceded by the book of Nehemiah. In Nehemiah 1:4, we see a man who is burdened and broken by the condition of his people, in his brokenness he fasts and mourns for days and then God uses him to rebuild all of Jerusalem! This is the other type of brokenness. We can either allow ourselves to be broken by what’s going on around us or God will have to break us. We are all Lego’s and we must come in pieces, ready for God to build us into His image for us!
We are all Lego’s and we must come in pieces, ready for God to build us into His image for us!
We must be broken for God to make something beautiful out of us and knowing that allows us to do it. It starts right now by falling to the floor and weeping before God about the condition of the world around us. It starts by understanding that what we perceive as terrible pain is often God’s greatest blessings. If we start right now, by being broken, then we can truly be used by God!
The point is:
We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope (Romans 5:3&4)….
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