The Unexpected Gift of Brokenness


brokenness2Most churches are guilty of selling Christianity as a pain-free existence. We might not come out and say it, but the message oftentimes is, ‘Accept Christ and all your problems will disappear.’  Believers later find themselves disillusioned when after following Christ and finding that life is difficult. Some throw in the proverbial towel and try to walk away from anything and everything that smacks of God. Others get stuck in the process and become bitter yet they’re still present in body. And yet, there are those who embrace, with varying amounts of struggle, the process of becoming conformed to Christ’s death (Philippians 3:10).

In much the same way that the sacrificial animals of the Old Testament days did not go willingly to the altar, most of us go kicking and screaming to the altar of the death of our own flesh. We smell death in the air and we RESIST.

Paul challenged us in Phil. 3 that in order to know Christ and the power of his resurrection, we also must know the fellowship of his sufferings and be conformed to his death. Wow, we think, “Did I really sign-up for that? I didn’t see that in the fine print. Is there an opt-out?”

This fellowship of his suffering and conformity to his death is the process of brokenness. The taming of the human soul.

An unbroken person is unable to live in the mysteries of God. Unwilling to accept the difficult challenges. Endlessly stuck in the questioning process (which is good and acceptable in its right place but must eventually be laid on the altar, too.)

Psalm 51:7 says “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.

Personally, I find it hard to give this sacrifice to God, yet it seems to be something God’s uses.

Since much of my life is spent in helping others, I sometimes hear comments from individuals about something that they specifically felt was helpful to them. I half-smiled last week as a lady said, “I figured that as much as you’d been through, you could understand me.”  I got it. I understood what she was saying. I was not separated from her by any façade of perfection. She saw me as totally human, approachable. While my brokenness (in its limitedness) is not the pathway I would have ever chosen in my life to make me more qualified to care for folks, in reality that is exactly what it has done.

I suppose I should just lie down on the altar instead of going kicking and screaming, huh?

Hebrews 4:15 tells us that we have a High Priest, Christ, who is touched by the feelings of our weaknesses, being tempted in every point just as we are, yet he did not sin. Verse 16 further invites us to come boldly to Christ throne of grace so that we can get mercy and grace to help us in our times of need. Christ is approachable because he understands. 

Brokenness, when embraced for the beauty which can come from its ashes, can enable us to enter into the mysteries of Christ in a way that we “know him” and touch the world around us in significant tangible ways.

It’s an unexpected gift. 

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Categories : brokenness


  1. Lovely post! It’s so true that we can often help others the most through our own brokenness. I’ve always loved the way I could see in retrospect how everything was actually perfect – a way of God leading me to the next step on my journey.

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