The Brokenness of God
A Biblical Look
Humility and Brokenness of God
Who is like unto the Lord, Who dwells on
Who humbles himself
to behold the things that are in heaven and in earth.
Garland (c) 1998 AngelicArtistry Cross (c) New Creation Web Design
My father was an unbroken man.
When I became a Christian,
in my own unbrokenness,
I unconsciously imposed the template
of my harsh earthly father
upon my heavenly Father.
My earthly father was a harsh taskmaster. I recall a time when I was very young when he raked me over the coals cruelly and harshly for not writing my thank-you notes quickly enough for him. I was five or six years old. It honestly never occurred to him that the abusive treatment of his little daughter was worse than my not getting my thank-you notes out promptly.
He did not beat me, but he often called me names unworthy of repeating on these pages. Suffice it to say my father's words and name calling left me shattered and scarred for well over forty years. A physical beating could not have done much more harm to my soul.
We are all born unbroken, and we all need to be broken. And the more wounded we are, the more unbroken we become. My father was a very unbroken man, and when I became a Christian, in my own unbrokenness, I unconsciously imposed the template of my harsh earthly father upon my Heavenly Father. I saw Him as a harsh, rigid, rigorous taskmaster who shunned or punished me any and every time I failed to measure up to his subjective standards.
Over the years, the Lord has exposed the heresy of my distorted thinking. He has revealed Himself as the complete opposite of my own understanding of fatherhood. He has been patient, loving and faithful even when I am not. I have experienced His discipline, and, though it is very painful at times, it has never been cruel or unjust. Instead the wounds inflicted by Him have been corrective, redemptive, healing and restorative. It is out of those wonderful lessons from God that this message has been birthed. It is a privilege to share what I have learned with you.
To see a chart comparing unbrokenness and brokenness click here.
I was a very unbroken woman when I became a Christian in 1976. Even so, I threw myself into serving the Lord with all my heart and, surprisingly, He used me in spite of my awful unbrokenness. An avid student of God's Word, I spoke and taught often. My life had been turbulent from the moment I was born and becoming a Christian had given me so much hope for something better. I pinned my hopes upon Christ, but those hopes were based on a works mental- ity and a God who rewarded the good deeds and punished the bad. I falsely believed that as long as I studied God's Word diligently and walked in the light I had with all my heart, nothing bad could happen. I was headed for big trouble with that false doctrine! I did not yet understand that God is never through molding and shaping us no matter how "good" we are.
I had married Clint Murchison, Jr., a year earlier. We were crazy in love with each other, but we were also two very wounded, very unbroken people. Although we had all that money could buy (including the Dallas Cowboys Football Team), our marriage was a constant struggle. And we were both responsible for that struggle. Hurt people hurt people.
My hopes were based
upon a works mentality
and a God who rewarded
the good deeds and
punished the bad.
To make matters worse, the 80's were one shattering experience after another. My son was diagnosed with paranoid-schizophrenia in 1980. My husband was diagnosed with the terminal brain disorder of cerebellar atrophy in 1981. And the mother I loved, needed and never had because of her mental problems died the same year. To complicate things even more, in 1984 my husband, at that time one of the nation's wealthiest men, was forced to take bankruptcy. I was angry! I was enraged! And all my anger became transfixed upon God.
Shamefully, I cursed God. I shook my fist in His face. Day after day only vileness flowed from my lips to His ears. I commanded Him out of my life daily. He clung to me no matter what I said or did. Instead of harsh rebuke, He spoke in the most loving way to my broken heart, which of course only enraged me more. It was that same feeling I had toward Clint when he tried to kiss and make up in the middle of a quarrel. My response was always, "Don't touch me!" That was exactly how I felt about God. Looking back, the rage I poured out at God at that time was the rage of an entire lifetime.
After weeks of rebuking God, ordering Him out of my life and challenging His every Word, I heard the Lord say in the most loving and gentle way, "Come get in my lap and let me hold you." Without a doubt, that was the defining moment of my life. After months of vilifying God and rejecting His loving calls to come to Him, I broke. This prodigal daughter came to her senses in the middle of the pigpen where I had been camping for months.
My angry God
had only driven me
away from Him.
What is your image of God? Is He harsh? Severe? Strict? Is He indulgent? Anything goes? Does your particular god look the other way when you sin?
M. Craig Barnes wrote in his book, When God Interrupts, "I have seen compulsive people finally give up trying to get life right. They can't explain it, but it had something to do with giving up their worship of a demanding God. I have seen the smartest among us finally get to a point of rejoicing in their great ignorance because knowledge no longer keeps them from experiencing God. They tell me that joy was born out of the realization that God kept showing up in places beyond their theological boundaries. I have seen jerks become compassionate because they gave up on their angry God after he clearly abandoned them. Now they can discover the God of mercy, who shapes and molds them into his merciful servants."
My misconceptions of God had only driven me far from him, but my false image of an angry God was now shattered forever. I had been a Christian for years, but I finally saw the True and Living God in the midst of the biggest storm of my life. That day, the God Who loved me in spite of myself broke my heart with His unfailing love, and I have never been the same. Since that time the Lord has only become sweeter and sweeter, and I have become more and more humbled by the very thought of His unblushing unconditional love for sinners.
Peter Kreeft wrote in his book, Making Sense Out of Suffering, "He sits beside us not only in our suffering but even in our sins. He does not turn his face from us, however much we turn our face from Him. He endures our spiritual scabs and scars, our sneers and screams, our hatreds and haughti- ness, just to be with us. Withness—that is the word of love." O my! What a God!
Out of those very dark days of my life, I mourned, wept, repented and pressed in to know more about this most amazing God who wants to be with us—even—
and especially at our worst. I wrote on mourning and repentance and grew in my understanding of the invaluable truths of brokenness. In 2001 I began writing about the brokenness of God, for surely only someone perfectly broken could love and bear with someone so completely unbroken. This is how this message was birthed.
First Things First—Reconciling the God Who Hates Sin and Died for Sinners
Before we can venture forward in our study on the brokenness of God, it is important to look at the just, righteous, holy aspects of God's character, and in particular His wrath against sin.
Habakkuk 1:13 (NAS) tells us that the Lord's eyes are "too pure to approve evil, and Thou canst not look on wickedness with favor".
Nowhere is the wrath of God against sin
more apparent than when Jesus
hung upon the cross.
Nowhere is the wrath of God against sin more apparent than when Jesus hung upon the cross. It was there that He poured out His wrath against sin upon His Son. This is why we call Him Savior. He saves those who believe and clothes us with His perfect righteousness. Now when God looks at us, He sees Jesus.
"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (2 Corinthians 5:21).
When the Jews placed the blood of the lamb upon the doorposts in Egypt, death passed over their houses. Likewise, death passes over those who place their faith and trust in the blood of Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world (John 1:29).
Romans 4:14-15 tell us, "For if those who are of the Law [those who trust in obeying rules to save them or keep them saved] are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified, for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, neither is there violation".
In the simplest terms, what the above verse means is this: We trust in the righteousness of Christ for our righteousness and our salvation and receive them. End of story. The only other alternatives are that we trust in ourselves and our own rule-keeping, or we choose to be flagrant, unrighteous law breakers. These last two options will bring us face to face with the wrath of God at the end of the age.
We trust in the righteousness of Christ
for our righteousness and our salvation
and receive them. End of story.
Just listen to the terrible words of those who are not covered by the blood of the Lamb.
"And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?' (Revelation 6:15-17).
The Bible clearly tells us that Jesus Christ the God-man was, is and ever shall be the only righteous One who ever lived. He took the wrath we deserved upon Himself on our behalf. By putting our trust in Him, we live, not in any hope of our own righteousness, but resting securely in His.
"As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:10).
"But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away" (Isaiah 64:6 KJV).
God is Love
God is Love with a capital "L" (1 John 4:8), and He deeply loves sinners. He loves us so much that He paid the ultimate price. He died in our place for our sin!
For if while we were enemies,
we were reconciled to God
through the death of His Son,
much more, having been reconciled,
we shall be saved by His life.
Romans 5:8 clearly explains this in explicit detail.
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation [of and with God]. Therefore, just as through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—for until the Law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed [counted against us] when there is no law" (Romans 5:8-13 NAS).
While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. What wonderful words! Those who trust in the promise that the Lord Jesus Christ took God's wrath against sin upon Himself for all those who believe, will never face it. Not in this life nor in the one to come.
Let me say this a different way. Because of the fall of Adam, we are all born into sin. As cute and precious and innocent as we look as newborn babes, we inherited the DNA of sin from our forefather Adam. God is too holy, too just and too righteous to look upon sin and must pour out His wrath upon it. His only plan was to send His Son to take His wrath upon Himself in our behalf. There is no Plan B.
Now that we have very briefly examined the holy, just and righteous character of God and His wrath against sin, let us now look at His brokenness.
Through faith in Jesus Christ
we are saved
from God's wrath against sin.
A Broken God
Jesus said, "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13 NAS).
As I study the Bible I see a broken God. And His brokenness is never more evident than when Jesus, the perfect, sinless God-man hung upon the cross. In perfect submission and abject humility, the God of the universe hung naked and exposed before a jeering world. From that humiliating place of ultimate poverty, forsakenness and brokenness, He uttered these unforgettable words: "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).
Once again quoting Peter Kreeft from his incredible book, Making Sense Out of Suffering, "That God should take alienation away from man by inserting alienation into the heart of God; that he should conquer evil by allowing it its supreme, unthinkable triumph, deicide, the introduction of death into the life of God, the God of life, the Immortal One; that he should destroy the power of evil by allowing it to destroy him—this is 'the foolishness of God [that] is wiser than men, and the weakness of God [that] is stronger than men'"(1 Corinthians 1:24).
And this, my friend, is the brokenness of God.
In the words of Frederick Buechner, "Those who believe in God can never, in a way, be sure of Him again. Once they have seen Him in a stable, they can never be sure where He will appear or to what lengths He will go, to what ludicrous depths of self-humiliation He will descend in His wild pursuit of man."
Philippians 2:5-8 explicitly describe the astounding depths of self-humiliation to which He actually plunged in His wild pursuit of you and me.
The New American Standard Bible says it this way: "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Philippians 2:5).
The Message says it this way: "Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time, came he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion."
Love is abdication.
God is abdication.
Brokenness is Abdication
In 1936, only eleven months after his coronation, King Edward VIII of England shocked the world by abdicating his throne for the love of a woman. The object of his love, Wallis Simpson, had not only been divorced once but was already in her second marriage when they met. These facts alone made her not only an unsuitable choice for the King of England but the entire situation a scandalous affair as well.
French poet, Simone Weil (1909-1943) wrote, "Love is abdication. God is abdication". Abdication is the formal relinquishment of one's claims, rights, responsibilities and power. For King Edward VIII, love was indeed abdication, a drama played out upon the world's stage for all to see.
Moral values were very different in 1936 than they are today. King Edward's love and passion for Wallis Simpson created a moral crisis, a family crisis, a royal crisis and a national panic in the Commonwealth when he determined to marry her. He was ultimately forced to abdicate the throne of England and was exiled from both his family and his country for the remainder of his life.
Edward's abdication broke the hearts of his family and the British people; and theirs were not the only broken hearts. Mrs. Simpson's husband suffered a broken heart as well. In taking Wallace Simpson as his wife, Edward also broke his vows to the Church of England. Romantic as it may seem, Edward's abdication was an ignoble act of something less than selflessness and anything but holy in the light of the abdication of God.
Let's now ponder abdication in the light of the holiness and purity of God in sending His Son to die for ungrateful, undeserving sinners. Only then will we fully grasp the meaning of abdication in the truest sense of Simone Weil's words, "Love is abdication and God is abdication." Then and only then will we even begin to catch the tiniest glimpse into the depths and heights and breadth of The God Who did not just abdicate. No. The very essence of His nature is abdication. He is the God Who is Perfect Love, and Perfect Love will always abdicate for the sake of love.
In His great love for all of creation, and specifically in His astonishing quest for a spotless bride for His beloved Son, the Father actively participated in Jesus's abdication of His throne from heaven. This strategy of God was not taken, as King Edward's was, because of any sin or any problem in the Godhead, for They were, are and always will be without sin. No, this stunning move was made for the sole purpose of reconciling sinners to Himself that they might become His spotless bride. Mankind is Wallace Simpson, but Jesus is no King Edward.
Jesus, Who was God, abdicated His throne to come to earth to die for a sinful people—an unsuitable people—that we might be made suitable to become His bride through His great sacrifice of abdication and crucifixion. Both were, for lack of a better word, radical. Were I an angelic being, I would still be shaking my head at the wonder of it all. This is, however, what God required of Himself. My own very human head shakes at the wonder of it all.
It is the greatest story ever told. Love could not—would not be thwarted. Jesus, who was God, came to dwell without sin among sinners and then to shed His blood through a torturous death at the hand of an ungrateful wretch like me and an ungrateful wretch like you. In the words of George Bennard in his great old hymn, The Old Rugged Cross, "For the dear lamb of God left his glory above, to bear it to dark Calvary." These precious words stand majestically alongside Eugene Peterson's lucid words already stated above from The Message. Jesus the God man set aside the privileges of deity, took on the status of a slave and became human! He claimed no special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, sinless obedient life and then died a selfless, sinless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. Scriptures teach that three days after He was crucified, Christ rose from the dead and forty days later He returned to His throne in heaven (Acts 1:2-11, 1 Corinth- ians 15:12-14).
Once we fully understand this, the only appropriate response every time we hear it cannot possibly be anything less than profound humility, blushing wonder, heart-pounding gratitude, burgeoning faith, joyful abandonment and the passionate purpose to enjoy and glorify God.
What is man,
that you are mindful of him?
The son of man
that you care for him?
"But there is a place where someone has testified: 'What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet.' In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. He says 'I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises.' And again, 'I will put my trust in him.' And again he says, 'Here am I, and the children God has given me.' Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants [His bride]" (Hebrew 2:9-16 NIV).
"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor [abdicated], so that you through his poverty might become rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9 NIV).
Edward and his bride Wallis Simpson were a very sad lot in many ways. They lived in exile for the rest of their lives. Contrast Edward's abdication with the abdication of God. After abdicating His throne for the church, the bride of Christ and the passion of His life, our King returned to His throne in heaven where He now reigns and will reign forevermore. And one day we will reign in heaven with Him. Edward and his bride died in exile.
"Fear not little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:39).
"If we suffer, we shall also reign with him . . . " (2 Timothy 2:12 KJV).
Breathtaking! This is the only word that comes to mind as I read the words of the psalmist below.
"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!" (Psalm 8:3-9 NIV).
The abdication of Christ
"can only be conceived or estimated
by the glory from which He descended,
the humiliation to which He stooped,
and the sacrifice which He offered
to save sinners."
As we now understand it, abdication and brokenness in no way diminish or tarnish the majesty and glory of a holy, righteous and just God. Conversely, abdication and brokenness magnify the supremacy of the one and only true God of the universe. Inherent in the sacrificial nature of God, they distinguish Him from all other gods tucked neatly away in the hearts and minds of man. These other "gods," in fact, offer no sacrifice for man at all. Instead these tyrannical little gods, which are no gods at all, demand that man offer continual sacrifices to them. And how mankind loves to think that salvation depends upon these pitifully futile offerings. How much we little punks love to think that they somehow protect us from and/or obligate these petty little gods to us.
Jehovah, the one and only True God and Creator of the universe, could not be holy, just and righteous without abdication and brokenness. It is part and parcel of Who He Is, and it permeates the universe with the sweet aroma of it all.
The truth is, had God not abdicated, there would be no hope for creation, if in fact there would have been a creation at all. None. Zero. There would have been no incarnation, no crucifixion and no resurrection. And there would be no new creation. There would only be hopelessness and despair in everything we do and say everywhere we turn. The cries of Ecclesiastes would be our cries. "Meaningless! Meaningless! . . . Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaning- less" (Ecclesiastes 1:2 NIV). Life would be filled with nothing but unrelenting emptiness, sorrow and woe. There would be no Romans 8:28. There would be no redemption. Praise God this is not the way is is.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified" (Romans 8:28-30 NIV).
Had God not abdicated,
there would be no hope for creation.
It was for but a moment in time, but can we even begin to take hold of the gravity of God's abdication? Can we comprehend the astonishment of the angels at such a sacrifice? We can only humble ourselves and accept it by faith. Clearly, the abdication of God was an act of purest selflessness and, as it can only be with God, abdication demonstrates for us what brokenness looks like. We can only begin to take it in by the grace of God. And O the wonder of it all.
"O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand . . . " (Psalm 95:6-7 KJV).
Here is our worship. God has called those of us who are His to abdicate our thrones to Him. This means acknowledging to ourselves that only God has ultimate rule and reign over our lives and our circumstances as well as the lives and circumstances of others. It also means abdicating our claim to our right to ourselves; abdicating our will for the will of God; and abdicating our lives for the sake of Christ, for the sake of one another and for the sake of being a faithful witness to the lost.
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you" (Romans 12:1-3 NIV).
"He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8 NIV).
"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers" (1 John 3:16 NIV).
"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35 NIV).
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understand- ing; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones" (Proverbs 3:5-8 NIV).
"You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you" (Isaiah 26:3 NIV).
Lest we misunderstand, abdication for the believer is not giving up being a responsible person. It is in fact the most responsible thing we can do for God. Abdication is giving up our right to rule from our throne in this life to the only one worthy of reigning on it. Jesus Christ. King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
God has called us
to abdicate our thrones to Him.
"And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all" (Mark 10:44 KJV).
" . . . he who wins souls is wise" (Proverbs 11:30b NIV).
Brokenness is Humility
The fall of man occurred because of the pride of man. If Satan could steal just one truth, it would be the truth of brokenness. And he actually has succeeded. For the most part, there is very little understanding of the imperative of this truth in the church today.
Like brokenness and abdication, brokenness and humility are one and the same. God has always been broken, therefore He has always been humble. Humility is the bottom line of brokenness for the believer in Christ as well.
Who is like unto the Lord,
Who dwells on high,
Who humbles himself
to behold the things that are in
heaven and in earth.
We See God's Brokenness in His Humility
Some very dear women friends of mine in Dallas have had a ministry called "Followers" for many years. They are a small group, but they have been very effective in mentoring young women into becoming committed followers of Jesus Christ. In 2001 I did a weekend conference for the Followers. That is where I met Helen. Helen spent one entire evening at the feet of all the women there. She didn't wash their feet with water as Jesus did His disciples. She didn't wash their feet with her tears as Mary did for Jesus. Instead, Helen gently massaged the feet of every woman there—for a long time. It was the first time she had ever done anything like this before. It was a very special time for everyone, especially Helen.
Helen has come to see me several times in East Texas since that weekend, and she always massages my feet. She has a humble servant's heart and a very humbling ministry to those fortunate enough be the beneficiaries of it.
Jesus demonstrated humility to His disciples the night He washed the filth from their feet.
" . . . so He got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him" (John 13:45).
The God of the universe came to earth to be a humble servant of mankind. He raised the bar on god-likeness. In order to go higher we must go lower. In order to be great we must become servants.
"Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant'" (Matthew 20:25-26 NIV).
Jesus said, "I am meek [gentle/humble] and lowly [humble] in heart" (Matthew 11:29).
When we order a "double-double" cappuccino at Starbuck's we are asking for two cappuccinos with double milk in the same cup. In this verse, Jesus is saying that he is a double-double. He is a "humble-humble" God.
The ways of the world are contrary to the ways of the God. The world compares greatness to being leaner, meaner, hipper, fitter, faster, smarter, richer, better looking and more important than others. Greatness in God's kingdom is defined in terms of a lowly servant's heart. I wonder with the Psalmist, Who is like our God?
"Who is like unto the Lord God, who dwelleth on high, Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth! He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill; That he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people" (Psalm 113:5-8).
No one is as humble
as our God.
Charles Spurgeon gives eloquent insight into the answer to this question.
"This is God's making Himself little which is the cause of our being made great. We are so little, that if God should manifest His greatness without condescension, we should be trampled under His feet; but God, who must stoop to view the skies and bow to see what angels do, turns His eye yet lower, and looks to the lowly and contrite and makes them great."
Jesus also demonstrated the greatest brokenness and humility of all through perfect obedience to His Father.
" . . . ‘I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does" (John 5:19 NIV).
"By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me" (John 5:30 NIV).
We See God's Humility and Brokenness in His Mercies
From God's perspective, mercy is the forgiveness of sin, which spares repentant sinners from His wrath. There is no mercy such as this without humility.
"Mercy" is defined in the dictionary as "that benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries; to treat an offender better than he deserves; the disposition that tempers justice and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries and forbear punishment; to inflict less than law or justice will warrant". All of these definitions fall far short of the truth of God's mercy.
is the forgiveness of sin.
Had my paradigm of God been correct—had God not forgiven my anger toward Him, I would burn in hell forever. And I would deserve it. Mercy, however, is not getting what we deserve. It is not receiving God's wrath and judgment for sin.
From the human side, mercy is forgiving the trespasses of others against us and praying for God's mercy upon those who use, misuse and abuse us. This is one of the ways that brokenness manifests itself in the life of a believer
"Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. And do not judge and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned" (Luke 6:36-37 NAS).
When the Bible speaks of God's mercy, it often speaks of it in the plural—His mercies. His undeserved, life-changing mercies are definitely what I received when I was going through those rage-filled months with God. He won and I was deeply humbled and have never been the same.
"It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consummed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22-23).
The mercy of God is also described as "tender" mercy, and how tender it is.
"Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful [compas- sionate], and of tender mercy" (James 5:11).
It was Jesus who said, "I desire mercy and not sacrifice" (Matthew 9:13, 12:7).
"Sacrifice" refers to the works of the law. Jesus was saying to His disciples that mercy is the new law.
What we give out comes back to us. Jesus said that those who are merciful will receive mercy.
"Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy" (Matthew 5:7).
I cannot say that I was a merciful person before the Lord exposed the unbroken condition of my heart. It was a life-changing time for me. God's mercy and grace brought me to repentance and brokenness. It was actually His brokenness that brought me there. Psalm 63:3 gave rich new meaning to the Lord's mercy for me.
" . . . thy lovingkindness [mercy] is better than life . . . ".
Grace is unearned,
We See God's Humility and Brokenness in His Grace
Nothing exemplifies the brokenness of God more than His condescen- sion—His coming down to love, befriend and die for sinners.
The Hebrew word for "grace" means to stoop or bend down in kindness to an inferior. This is certainly what it means for God to condescend. And I'm so grateful that He did and still does.
As noted earlier, Charles Spurgeon wrote that God's condescension, His grace, His stooping or bending down in kindness to an inferior is His making Himself little and this is the cause of our being made great.
If mercy is not getting was we deserve, then grace is getting what we do not deserve, because grace is undeserved favor.
When I am cranky and unkind and someone responds to me in a concerned and loving way instead of snapping back at me, I am getting something I do not deserve. In the past, my natural response to unkindness was anger. My completely unnatural (and miraculous, I might add) response to unkindness today is not always, but well more often than not, one of understanding and patience. The Lord transforms His children from law breakers to peace makers. And to Him be all the glory for this miraculous transformation in our lives when it occurs.
The Lord transforms His children
from law breakers to peace makers.
We See God's Humility and Brokenness in His Compassion
The Hebrew word for compassion means "to fondle or cherish, as the womb cherishes the fetus". According to the dictionary these words indicate a gentle emotion of tenderest affection.
If you are a woman reading this, you know you will never forget the tender love and affection you had for the baby in your womb when you were pregnant. The same can be said for you fathers reading this. This is what it means to cherish.
When my granddaughter was pregnant, my daughter rubbed her tummy and talked to her baby. She cherished both her daughter and her daughter's baby. She played music and sang songs to her. She told her she was loved and wanted and that we were excited that she was coming into our lives.
In much the same way, the Lord cherishes us. In His compassion, He demonstrates His love, care and devotion to us.
"As a father has compassion on [cherishes] his children, so the Lord has compassion on [cherishes] those who fear him" (Psalm 103:13 NIV).
In the Greek, the word "compassion" also means "to suffer with". If you are a parent, you can also identify with this one. When our children suffer, we suffer too. In the same way, when we suffer, the Lord suffers.
"In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity [compassion] he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old" (Isaiah 63:9).
Compassion was the compelling force in Jesus's healing miracles.
"Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him" (Matthew 20:34 NIV).
Compassion is also the compelling force for the forgiveness of sin.
"And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt." (Matthew 18:27 NAS).
is the compelling force
forgiveness of sin.
We See God's Humility and Brokenness in His Gentleness
The Lord's gentleness was one of the motivations for His condescending to be born among us, live among us and die for our sins.
The Hebrew word for "gentleness" also means modesty, meekness, humility and condescension. It is amazing how often this word "condescension" shows up in Hebrew words descriptive of the character of God. His gentleness, humility, meekness and condescension are continually flowing down to us from above. It is the gentleness of God that makes us great.
Psalm 18:36, "Thy gentleness [humility/meekness/condescension] made me great."
We find rest for our weary souls in the presence of the Lord when we finally learn that we are secure with Him—when we learn that He is meek, gentle, humble and lowly of heart.
"Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek [gentle] and lowly [humble] in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls" (Matthew 11:29).
We See God's Humility and Brokenness in His Comfort
The word "comfort" in the Greek means "to come alongside". Comforter is what Jesus called the Holy Spirit. He is our comforter. He is always alongside us to comfort and guide us. During the long years of my husband's terminal illness, one very special woman came alongside me to pray and love me through my anger, fears and tears. I do not know if I would have survived had her comforting presence not been there.
I had grown up feeling totally alone. I always felt like I was on the outside looking in and as if no one understood and no one really even cared. This terrible time in my life only heightened those feelings of aloneness as the tentacles of grief, anger and panic tightened their chilling grip around me.
I'll never forget my friend's words. Without realizing it, the Holy Spirit came alongside me through my friend, Joanne. She said exactly what I most needed to hear. She said, "Right or wrong, I'm on your side". Those were the unconditional words of comfort I had desperately needed to hear all my life. They were God's love song sung through Joanne to my ears.
I love this next passage. It tells us something very important. It tells us that God comforts us as a mother comforts her child. The word "fondled" means "dandled" (cuddled and caressed lovingly). The Lord holds us close and cuddles us! Amazing! How tender He is with His children!
"For thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall be nursed, you shall be carried on the hip and fondled on the knees. 'As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem'" (Isaiah 66:12-13 NAS).
How clear can it be?
The Lord wants loving intimacy
with His children.
The Greek word for "comfort" also means "to bring near". How clear can it be? The God of the universe desires loving heart-to-heart intimate relationship with His children.
"Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted [brought near]" (Matthew 5:4).
His nearness, His humility, His brokenness and His comfort are most evident to me when my heart is breaking.
"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit" (Psalm 34:18 NAS).
We See God's Humility and Brokenness in His Tears
Few of us think of God as experiencing, much less expressing painful emotions. Here is just one passage that gives us a glimpse into one of those painful times in heaven as He grieved over the rebellion of Moab.
"Therefore will I [the Lord] howl [make a boisterous wailing tone] for Moab, and I will cry out [shriek in anguish] for all Moab; mine heart shall mourn [roar] for the men of Kirheres. O vine of Sibmah, I will weep [with overflowing tears] for thee with the weeping [tears] of Jazer . . . Therefore Mine heart shall sound [rage, roar, mourn] for Moab like pipes, and mine heart shall sound [rage, roar, moan], like pipes for the men of Kirheres . . . " (Jeremiah 48:3l, 32, 36).
The Lord weeps
over the rebellion
Peter Kreeft calls Jesus the tears of God. If God weeps over the rebellion of sinners, just think how He must have wept as the Holy Spirit hovered over Mary to plant the seed of His beloved Son in her womb—knowing full well His destiny was the excruciating pain and humiliation of the cross—knowing full well that He would pour out His wrath for sin upon His perfect, cherished only begotten Son. Imagine His weeping as men spat in His Son's face. Can you comprehend the depths of God's pain as His son fell under the weight of His own cross on the way to Calvary? How many oceans of tears did he shed as Jesus the Christ cried out, "Father, Why have you forsaken me?"
O Father of mankind! Thank you. Your Son was not the only one who suffered the unbearable torment of that dreadful day. What agony and brokenness You must have known in those horrific hours. And what joy for the redemption it accomplished for those without hope apart from Your brokenness and humility. You take my breath away. I praise your holy Name.
We See God's Humility and Brokenness in His Nearness
"He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart." (Isaiah 40:11 NLT)
I was told that this story is true, but whether it is true or apocryphal, it is a beautiful picture of the nearness of God.
Denae was born almost four months premature. The doctors gave her father no hope for her survival. His heart was broken as he stood at his wife's bedside and gave her the doctor's report. "Our baby is not expected to live through the night."
Real true faith
is man's weakness
leaning on God's strength.
D. L. Moody
Denae's mother's fierce response both surprised and alarmed him. "Yes, she will! Denae is going to live." No matter how much he tried to convince her of what the doctors said, she refused to accept their words. She was no less brassy in her statements to the doctors as they told her she needed to prepare for the imminent death of her tiny baby girl. "Our baby is not going to die! She will be fine."
No one could reason with her. She stubburnly clung to her belief that Denae would live. She only had one concern. Denae was so premature that she could not be touched. Her skin was too sensitive to bear human touch.
Tender physical touch is very important to all of human life, but it is especially needful for newborn infants. As Denae lay naked in her incubator, her mother asked the Lord to hold her since no one else could.
The second day, the doctors told Denae's father that the family needed to make funeral arrangements for her. Denae's mother's resolve steeled. "Denae is not going to die," was her response to her husband. "Honey, she is dying," he replied. "She is hanging by a thread."
Stubbornly, Denae's mother rejected any thought of her dying. Even though Denae survived day after day, the doctors gave her no chance of life, cautioning her mother that even if she did live, she would have so many handicaps and problems that it would be best if she did die.
In the face of the prognosis, Denae's mother stood firm. "Denae is not only going to live! Denae is going to be a normal, healthy little girl!" Do I need to tell you that Denae survived? To my knowledge, she is a completely normal, healthy child.
Faith sees the invisible,
believes the unbelievable
and receives the impossible.
Corrie Ten Boom
One overcast Fall day a few years ago at her older brother's ball game, Denae happily played at the feet of her mother. After skipping about the sideline for a while, Denae ran up to her mother and asked, "Do you smell that?" Her mother looked around and breathed deeply but smelled nothing. "No, honey. I don't smell anything." Denae went off again but returned shortly, running once again to her mother and asking insistently, "Do you smell that, mom? Can you smell it?" "No, honey. I don't smell anything," she whispered.
Once again Denae wandered off to cheer for her brother and his team, only to return once again, "Mom, can't you smell that?" Again her mother replied with mild frustration, "No, Denae, I don't smell anything? What is it, honey?""
Denae drew close to her mother, gazed into her eyes and said, "It smells like God when He's holding you close."
Tears filled her eyes. The Lord had answered her prayer. He had held Denae close those long months in the hospital.
"The nearness of God is my good" (Psalm 73:28 NAS).
In His Humility and Brokenness He Shelters Us Beneath His Wings
"He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart" (Psalm 91:4 NIV).
My friends Mary and Bob Rossman raise chickens. After hearing this message on the brokenness of God, Mary described to me how a mother hen calls her little chicks to rest. Spreading her wings and waving them gently, she clucks softly, calling them to come. Mary said though that when the hen senses danger, her entire demeanor changes. Her wings flutter urgently. Her clucking is rapid and loud as she summons her small charges to run for the refuge of her wings.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be scorched,
nor will the flame burn you.
An e-mail circulated around the internet in 2000-2001 purporting that The National Geographic had done an article in one of its issues a few years back on a devastating forest fire in Yellowstone Park. Citing Psalm 91:4, the story reported that forest rangers searching through the ashy rubble of the area had discovered the charred carcass of a large bird. Beneath her protective wings were three small chicks—still alive. Unfortunately the story was a hoax; but the very real shelter of God's wings is no hoax. In a world where so many rumors and urban legends fill our e-mail boxes, we can always count upon one thing. God never sleeps (Psalm 121:4). His watchful eye is always upon us. The shelter of His wings is our strength and our refuge twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior . . . " (Isaiah 43:2-3 NAS).
Some of the saddest words to me in the New Testament are those Jesus spoke to the Old Testament Jews of His day.
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling" (Matthew 23:37 NAS).
The Lord's wings are always outstretched. He calls us to run under them for refuge from this wearisome and sometimes scarey world in which we live. Does this mean bad things will not happen to us? Not necessarily. It does, however, mean that we can live securely, trustfully, peacefully, restfully and confidently through those trials that do come our way.
"The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe" (Proverbs 18:10 NAS)
The name of the Lord
is a strong tower;
runs into it and is safe.
In His Humility and Brokenness His Arms are Always Beneath Us
"The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms . . . " (Deuteronomy 33:27).
Charles Spurgeon wrote of God's refuge,"Here is boundless affection. Would he put them in his bosom if he did not love them much?Listen once again to Jesus's wonderful words, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).
"Here is tender nearness. So near are they, that they could not possibly be nearer.
"Here is hallowed familiarity. There are precious 'love passages' between Christ and his weak ones.
"Here is perfect safety. In his bosom who can hurt them? They must hurt the Shepherd first.
"Here is perfect rest and sweetest comfort. Surely we are not sufficiently sensible of the infinite tenderness of Jesus!"
Can you hear them? Will you come? His arms are outstretched and He is calling.
In His Humility and Brokenness, His Arms are Always Open To His Children
My dog Mookie is very special to me. She weighs almost a hundred pounds and stands over two feet tall. She is gorgeous, loving and precious. She has the body, coloring and coat of a German Shepherd, the ears of a Collie, the bright china blue eyes of a Siberian Huskie and the personality of a big old love bunny. Large grey freckles dot her nose.
Mookie and I play ball every night for five or ten minutes. She has both a pink ball and a green ball, and she likes to rotate them as we play. One evening I could not find the pink ball. I looked in all the usual places but it was nowhere to be found.
For several weeks we played with the green ball, but everything was out of synch for Mookie. From time to time when I threw the green ball, she would stop suddenly and look around the room for the pink ball. She looked under the couch, and behind the chair or drape dozens of times over those days and weeks. Each night Mookie seemed to be yearning for the missing pink ball.
Mookie lay down
and nuzzled and cuddled
her pink ball.
One day she found it. I have absolutely no idea where it had been for those many weeks. When she saw it, she ran, picked it up and tossed it into the air several times. Normally she brings the ball to me to throw for her, but this time she lay down on her belly and nuzzled and cuddled her pink ball. In fact this was her pattern for several weeks. She still takes extra time to chew affection- ately on her pink ball.
Mookie's special attention to the lost ball reminded me of the father of the prodigal son. We all know that story. The prodigal asked his father for his inheritance, took it and left home. The Bible says he "squandered it on loose living".
My son disappeared for almost six months after he was diagnosed with a serious mental illness, taking all the money he had to his name. During those long months, I never stopped thinking about him, weeping, longing and praying for his return. I am sure that my anguish was similar to the prodigal's father's anguish. I can see him now, sitting day after day on his porch, his hand shading his eyes as he looked longingly down that long lonely road for his long lost son.
The Bible says that one day the son returned. I'm sure as the Father squinted into the distance and saw that very small speck upon the horizon, his heart leapt in his chest as it had many times before. Could it be? And as that speck grew larger, the father recognized his son. Moved with compassion, he leapt from his chair. He didn't wait for the son to run to him. He ran to his son, fell on his neck and kissed him.
God doesn't wait for us to grovel.
He runs to us,
wraps His arms around us,
puts His head on our necks and kisses us.
" . . . But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him" (Luke 15:20).
Jesus was describing the incredible love of our heavenly Father for sinners. The God of the universe doesn't sit on His throne and wait for us to grovel. He runs to us, wraps His arms around us, puts His head on our necks and kisses us. As the son nuzzled in his father's arms, he could not wait to say, "Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son" (Luke 15:21).
And what was the father's response?
"The father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry" (Luke 15:22-24).
There was no indictment against the rebellious son. Instead there was great celebration and an incredible outpouring of generosity. His discipline was suffering the consequences of his sin in the pig-pen. As painful as it was for the son, it was painful for the father as well. But now it was over.
"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it" (Hebrews 12:11 NIV)
God's discipline is always a painful but very good thing that is intended to spare us from many of the ongoing effects of sin and the problems it causes us in our relationships with Him and others. It is also intended to break the cycle of the effects of those sins in an ongoing way in future generations. I have seen God doing this in my own family, who have been so deeply wounded by my own unbrokenness. And I am grateful.
God's discipline breaks
the cycle of sin
in future generations.
The Astonishing Vulnerability of The Almighty God
Few of us have seen it in His Word, but the Lord is deeply broken over every prodigal. Scripture reveals a God who suffers greatly over both our broken- ness and unbrokenness. He suffers over the sins and waywardness of His prodigals. I know. I was one.
"How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboiim? My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused. I will not carry out my fierce anger, nor will I turn and devastate Ephraim. For I am God, and not man—the Holy One among you. I will not come in wrath" (Hosea 11:8-9 NIV).
"For the brokenness of the daughter of my people I am broken; I mourn, dismay has taken hold of me (Jeremiah 8:21 NAS).
And God asks the question, "Is not Ephraim still my son, my darling child?" asks the Lord. "I had to punish him, but I still love him. I long for him and surely will have mercy on him" (Jeremiah 31:20).
Francis Thompson wrote eloquently in his great poem, The Hound of Heaven of just such a prodigal,
"And human love needs human meriting:
How have you merited
of all man's clotted clay the dingiest clot?
Alack, you know not
how little worthy of any love you are!
Who will you find to love ignoble you but Me,
but only Me?
All which I took from you I did but take,
not for your harms,
but just that you might seek it in my arms.
All which your child's mistake fancies as loss,
I have stored for you at home.
Rise, clasp My hand, and come!"Halts by me that footfall.
Is my gloom, after all, shade of His hand,
‘Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
I am He Whom thou seekest!
You drove love from you,
who drove me away."
"Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
I am He
Whom thou seekest."
Brokenness and Humility are at the Foundation of the Character of God
Jesus came to save us and to show us what God is like. So what is God like? He was born in a stable because there was no room for His laboring mother in the inn. His bed was a feeding trough because, as the old Christmas carol says, "there was no crib for a bed". He was the seed that fell into the ground and died. He crossed the Kidron, which means "grief" and "mourning," to spend the last night of His life on His knees in a place called Gethsemane, which means "wine press". He was the grapes, crushed and bruised in the winepress for the forgiveness of our sin. Born in Bethlehem, which means "House of Bread", He was the grain that was crushed and broken to become the "Bread of Life" for us. All but one of His disciples was absent at His death. He suffered gross physical pain and the sense of abandonment of His Father on the cross. He died between two thieves. He forgave those who betrayed Him, those who abandoned Him and those who murdered Him. He was buried in someone else's tomb. Not only did many of His own followers "know Him not"—He was despised and rejected by His own people—a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
Jesus was born broken, lived broken and died broken. He rose from the dead and now reigns in heaven in righteousness, justice, holiness, power, glory, majesty and, yes, humility and brokenness. And because of this, everyone who believes in Him, truly believes, will live eternally with Him. This is what God is like. Is He not magnificent?
It would be so good for each of us if we meditated often upon the prophetic promise of a Savior who would come to earth to live a broken life and die a tragic but triumphant broken death.
"Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet God laid on him
the guilt and sins
of every one of us!
Isaiah 53:6 (TLB)
"And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the Lord's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors" (Isaiah 53:1-12 NIV).
Be encouraged! Just as the brokenness of God is bringing light, life and brokenness to our lives, our brokenness will be used by Him to bring light, life and brokenness to others. His body, which is now us—those who believe in Him—needs to be broken for Him. We in turn will then be used by the Lord to nourish and nurture one or a multitude with the broken bread of our own lives. And the earth will be filled with God's glory in and through us, and He will be glorified in and through us.
Times of brokenness
don't have to be huge,
tragic or devastating.
They most often
occur in very small ways.
Will you allow Him to bring brokenness in your own life? When you do, you will pass it on—even to perfect strangers—even without saying a word. A broken life impacts everything and everyone around it even when we don't see it, and when we are broken we don't need to see it.
We don't have to go looking for brokenness. The only thing necessary is to allow ourselves to weep before the Lord in those uncomfortable, disappointing, heart breaking times that inevitably occur in every life. They don't have to be huge, tragic or devastating. They most often occur in very small ways.
Recently I was involved in one of those minor events in which I became irritable with someone. I was edgy in my responses.
It was not a blow up, but I didn't realize until later that I had behaved in an unbroken way and needed to make it right with those involved in the situation. Right or wrong I felt very broken over the way I had responded.
Each of us is given opportunities to be broken a little each day. Let us embrace each one as a time for brokenness and humbling ourselves so that we may more glorify the Lord with our lives.
So What Does Humility and Brokenness Look Like in Us?
Here is what humility and brokenness look like in us:
First—We acknowledge that we are sinners saved by the grace of God alone, not because of anything we are or do.
"To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men— robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 18:9-14 NIV).
We are sinners
the grace of God alone.
Second—Even the smallest amount of the fruit of the spirit will be evident within us.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, good- ness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22-25).
Third—Even the smallest amount of the love of God will flow from our hearts to Him and to others.
1 Corinthians 13 in The Message says it this way:
"If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't have love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God's word with power, revealing all his mysteries and make everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, ‘Jump,' and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut.
Love doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always ‘me first,'
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end."
An unbroken person
cannot be trusted.
Fourth—The more broken we become the more joy will fill our lives. Nothing hinders true, biblical joy more than the unbrokenness of pride.
"Despair, you farmers, wail, you vine growers; grieve for the wheat and the barley, because the harvest of the field is destroyed. The vine is dried up and the fig tree is withered; the pomegranate, the palm and the apple tree—all the trees of the field—are dried up. Surely the joy of mankind is withered away. Put on sackcloth, O priests, and mourn; wail, you who minister before the altar. Come, spend the night in sackcloth, you who minister before my God; for the grain offerings and drink offerings are withheld from the house of your God. Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord. Alas for that day! For the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. Has not the food been cut off before our very eyes—joy and gladness from the house of our God?" (Joel 1:11-16 NIV).
Biblical joy comes from the humility and brokenness of repentance. Without it, we will live a life of shallow joy, manufactured joy or no joy at all. And even heathens recognize the difference.
"The humble also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel" (Isaiah 29:19 NKJ).
"To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified" (Isaiah 61:3).
"Then the virgin shall rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old, together, for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and give them joy for their sorrow" (Jeremiah 31:13 NAS).
God was, is, and always will be
So How Do I Become Broken?
I have a webpage on the subject of brokenness. To read it, click here, or click the link at the bottom of the page when you are through here. So I will only devote a few words on the subject here.
God was, is, and always will be broken. It is impossible for Him not to be broken. Brokenness is foundational to His character. It is not, however, foundational to the character of human beings. For we mortals, God's provision for our unbrokenness is 1) His brokenness, 2) the brokenness of others in our lives, and 3) our own brokenness. A commitment to this lifelong process is essential. The great thing about it is that the more broken we become, 1) the more like Him we become, 2) the more healed we become; and 3) the richer the life of faith becomes no matter what kinds of hardships we face.
"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise" (Psalm 51:17). So let us look briefly at this vital subject of repentance.
2 Corinthians 7:10 tells us how to be broken. It plainly says that godly sorrow (distress, grief, sadness and heaviness) produces repentance without lingering regret. In other words, repentance is not merely a cut and dried decision of the will.
Returning again to the book of Joel, we are clearly told what repentance looks like.
"'Yet even now,' declares the Lord, ‘Return to me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping, and mourning; And rend your heart and not your garments. Now return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness, and relenting of evil'" (Joel 2:12-13 NAS).
Biblically and historically, the repentance initiated by God has always been preceded by a very tearful godly sorrow, and it is the goodness and kindness of God that leads us to this repentance (Romans 2:4).
James 4:9-10 describes New Testament repentance exactly as it is described in the Old Testament. These verses amplify 2 Corinthians 7:10 and perfectly reflect the pattern of repentance throughout the word of God.
and mourn and weep;
let your laughter
be turned into mourning,
and your joy to gloom.
Humble yourselves . . .
"Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy to gloom" (v. 9).
"Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you" (v. 10).
From my perspective of the Scriptures, there really is no other way to repent or to be healed than through grief and mourning.
There are at least four other scriptural reasons to mourn and weep with crying and tears before the Lord. In addition to repentance, there is also 1) loss or disappointment of any kind or size, 2) prayer, 3) the Word of God and 4) worship and adoration of the Lord. All of these are potential moments of brokenness.
Henry Cloud and John Townsend write in their book, How People Grow. "Grief is the one pain that heals all other pain". Do lots of it!
For those who find it difficult to weep, Oswald Chambers wrote that the old Puritans used to pray for the gift of tears. So lets stop trying to look good and worrying about what others may think and allow ourselves to be broken. Tears are essential to brokenness. Let them flow.
Grief is the one pain
that heals all other pain.
Henry Cloud and John Townsend
One More Time
The wrath of God against sin was poured out upon Jesus Christ in the greatest story ever told. God was born of a woman, lived a sinless life and died a sacrificial death for you and me, taking the penalty for our sin upon Himself. But this is not the end of the story. Jesus conquered death by being raised from the dead, thereby making eternal life a reality for any and all who believe in Him.
"Jesus said . . . , "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26 NAS).
Through faith in Christ, sinners are saved from the wrath to come at the end of the age. Those who sincerely entrust themselves to the loving care of the Lord are brought under the cover of His righteousness. This gift begins an incredible transforming process. In my own life I have not become someone I never wanted to be. Instead I am becoming the person I always longed to be—and more—much more—and surprisingly not by any effort of my own but by the redemptive grace and mercy of God at work within me. Zecharaiah 4:6 says that God accomplishes His work, not by man's might nor by man's power, but by His Spirit.
If you have never surrendered your life to the God of the Universe—if you have never wanted to give up control of your life to Him before and you are captivated with Who He actually Is instead of who you thought He was, He will make His home in your heart right this moment. Jesus said, "Behold I stand at the door and knock; if any man hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him . . . " (Revelation 4:20).
Open your heart and invite Him in, not as a visitor but as a permanent resident. Confess that you not only have sinned but that you are a sinner. Let Him have control of your life. Join a Bible teaching church and become involved in a small group or Bible study. Do not give up until you have godly relationships. Venture into the incredibly fulfilling journey of brokenness. You will never regret it, because you will never be better and you will never be the same.
Jesus, I cannot take up my cross and follow you without your divine enablement. I love you, worship you and want to glorify you. I cry out to you with all my heart for your blessed help in the journey. Convict me of my sins, and give me vision for the broken life, even as I learn more about Yours. Praise Your Holy Name, Jesus. Amen.
"Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea" (Micah 7:18-19).
He has injured us
but He will bind up our wounds.
Below are some promises for you from the Bible.
"Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth" (Hosea 6:1-3 NIV).
"The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands" (Psalm 138:8).
"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in [me] will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6 NAS).
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22-23 RSV).
"Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth, and deep darkness the peoples; but the Lord will rise upon you, and His glory will appear upon you. And nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. Lift up your eyes round about, and see; they all gather together, they come to you. Your sons will come from afar, and your daughters will be carried in the arms. Then you will see and be radiant, and your heart will thrill and rejoice . . . " (Isaiah 60:1-5 NAS).
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:28-39).
The Brokenness of God (c) 2002
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