I don’t know about you, but I’m not too sure that I like that word. It sounds painful. It sounds like something to be fixed right away. It sounds like an unexpected screeching halt.
It’s very popular in the modern church to hear about success, popularity, comfort, and warm and fuzzy feelings. Brokenness doesn’t really fit the mold of “good choices for a book that will make you quoted in greeting cards at the Christian Bookstore.”
But what does the word of God say about brokenness?
Psalm 51 is a classic reference on being broken by the sight of your sin. King David has been brought to utter emptiness and helplessness as God deals with his tangle of sins with Bathsheba. Noah Webster defines it as “being made weak or infirm, being subdued completely, crushed, sorrowful.” And the Lord brought David to this very place. Look at David’s response as he sees the poverty and impurity of his soul compared the greatness and spotlessness of the Holy One of Israel.
“Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness.” He knows his only hope is the ever-enduring steadfast love of His God. David knows that there is no hope for deliverance in himself—he has to cast himself on the grace and compassion of Christ.
I can speak from my own life here—it takes a lot of humility to even get to that point, because I know in my heart of hearts that I most certainly do NOT deserve God’s grace in this area. I have nothing positive to bring to the table, I can’t say, “Hey God, I’m did this Your way, so won’t you bless me?”
It’s more like, “I completely ignored You in this area, I deserve nothing but punishment. Not only do I have nothing positive to bring, I’ve got negative actions that could plainly condemn me. But somehow…can You find it in Your mercy to take me back?”
Sounds a lot like the prodigal son. Which is really good, when you remember his father’s response. (Luke 15:11-32) Even when the son was a long ways off, the father ran to meet his son when he first saw him, and embraced him heartily and lavished loving gifts on him. And this father knew the rebellion of his son, and yet he received him with great joy and complete forgiveness. The grace of our God is just mind-blowing—I love this stuff!
Jesus, I just want to thank you right now for your grace! You saw me in my total poverty of soul, gave of your immeasurable riches, that I might through your poverty become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)
Nothing I bring can fix the breach caused by my sin. David says it this way, “For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” The only choice I have is to ignore God and stumble in my darkness, or to humbly lay down my soul at Jesus’ feet, to be in total, absolute brokenness. And to think—He WILL NOT despise a broken and contrite heart. His compassion is astounding!
In this brokenness over sin, David cries out to His God for cleansing, for renewal, for restoration. True brokenness over sin has these two results: hunger to be washed from the impurity, and praise unto God. If our Redeemer is our focus, then we cannot but praise Him in the midst of our brokenness. The more we see of the death that is ourselves, the more we will hunger for the LIFE that Jesus brings. The more we see of the LIFE that Jesus brings, the more we will hunger to be freed from the death that we are.
“O LORD, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Your praise.” Psalm 51:15