Very often when we see something broken, we discard it. We associate brokenness with something that is imperfect, disconnected, or damaged – a state that is undesirable. We do not like to be associated with brokenness because we want to be complete, whole, and perfect. It is therefore not surprising that we are often caught up in chasing after perfect grades, the perfect job, the perfect church, and even the perfect spouse. But we know that only God is perfect – His Will, His Word, His Ways (Deut 32:4; Psa 18:30). We live in a broken world and our lives are broken in more ways than we dare to acknowledge – we suffer from broken minds, bodies, and hearts. Jesus invites us to embrace our brokenness, acknowledge that we are dependent on Him, and allow Him to transform and sanctify our lives to glorify Him (Rom 6; Gal 2:20).
In many ways, being broken or having something broken up need not be viewed negatively. A gardener knows the importance of cultivating the soil. Cultivating involves removing the weeds from the garden and loosening the soil to permit plant roots easier access to air, water and nutrients. Hardened, unploughed ground must be broken up, without which it is not usable. In Mark 14:3-9, the bible records for us the account of a woman who broke an alabaster jar of expensive perfume to anoint the head of Jesus. The breaking of the jar and the anointing of Jesus’ head with the perfume were not accidental actions; this was a voluntary and intentional sacrifice.
Brokenness is a necessary heart condition and spiritual posture for us to be usable by God. Psalm 51 details King David’s deep repentance, prayer for cleansing, and pleading for renewal and restoration after his sin with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah. King David’s life was considerably flawed, yet God used him mightily, and we know him to be a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam 13:14; Acts 13:22). There is much that we can learn from with respect to how King David responded when confronted with his sin and brokenness. King David saw his sin ever so clearly – he did not hide, shift the blame or minimize his sin. King David was broken and completely dependent on the Lord. At the core of his confession is the realization that:
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart,
These, O God, You will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)
In our daily lives, and in practical terms, how do we come before God with “a broken and contrite heart”? First, let us embrace our brokenness. Whether we are broken physically, mentally, or relationally – let us not run away from it or pretend it is not there. It reminds us of our sinful state, our weaknesses and the need to depend on God completely. God hates pride (Psa 10:4; Prov 6:16-17; 1 Pet 5:5-6). Pride is an indication that we believe that we can and should rule over our own lives instead of submitting to God. Next, let us come to God with all sincerity of heart to seek His forgiveness and lean on Him totally (Psa 32; Prov 3:5-6).
In our brokenness we come again and again to recognize that we need God. Finally, let us allow God to work in our lives. God’s transformative power will change us to be increasingly more Christ-like day by day. He who has begun a good work in us will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Phil 1:6). The gradual but continual process of refinement can be agonizing and painful as putting to death our old self is by no means easy. However, we have God on our side. We are reminded in Romans 8:37 that “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us”. It is reassuring to know that in the end we will be presented to Christ without blemish and blameless (2 Pet 3:14).
By Dr Rebecca Ang (YCKC Bulletin 8&9 December 2018)