In August, I wrote about being broken, about the beauty and sweetness of embracing brokenness. Only when we are laid out before the Lord can He begin to repair us, rebuilding our faulty foundations and bringing healing to our wounded places.
For many of us, the barrier to brokenness is pride. We’ve been taught that being broken is bad. It means that we’re not good enough, therefore shame is often associated with being broken. We’d rather try to hold it together… and not face the reality of our wounds, the depth of our mess, the vastness of our needs. How ironic that we do this so much in the church. Rather than embrace our broken state and experience healing, we’d rather keep up our performance. Our happy, healthy, got-it-together performance.
We see in scripture after scripture that God values brokenness. Not because He likes to inflict pain on us, but because it’s only when we embrace the reality of how broken we are that He can do anything with us. Brokenness allows us to see how much we need Him. It allows Him to reassemble us the way that He intended for us to be assembled in the beginning. It allows Him movement and control in areas where we have resisted Him.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners… Isaiah 61:1
The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. Psalm 51:17
Recently I was reading in Luke 20 and came across a verse that speaks a word on being broken. I just never connected it to the kind of brokenness I am talking about– until God pointed it out.
Jesus looked directly at them and asked,
“Then what is the meaning of that which is written:
“‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’?
Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces;
anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.” Luke 20:17-18
Jesus is talking to the Jewish people and their religious leaders about how their rejection of Him as Messiah will not change the fact that He will become the Cornerstone (foundation) of faith in their God. Then in the following verse, He makes a bold statement about how others will react to Him as Cornerstone of the faith. I’ll replay it for you: Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.
I remember reading this verse years ago. My ongoing need for self-protection at that time skewed the truth of this passage. I wondered, “Are the options really limited to being broken or being crushed?” I was concerned about the fact that whether or not I submitted to God, I would be hurt. Maybe you can relate to that kind of thinking.
I definitely chose the former: to fall on Him. At first, my falling was very choreographed, as not to cause too much damage. (Insert chuckle here.) I wondered… calculated… how can I fall and not hurt myself? I think I spent the first 20 years of my Christian life straining myself to lean on Him, without truly falling. I spent a whole lot of time and energy trying to keep myself from being broken, or even appearing broken.
That continued until a few years ago. As I shared at the beginning of this post, I wrote recently about facing brokenness with a different perspective. Not worrying about the awful things that will happen to me if I’m broken, but instead, worrying about what will happen to me if I’m NOT broken.
That persective became very evident to me as I read Luke 20:18 over and over. Jesus makes it clear that voluntary brokenness is so much better, far more fruitful than the crushing that results from life long pride and self-sufficiency.
I’ve been relentless in my pursuit of understanding Jesus’ words in Luke 20:18. When He says, “Everyone who falls on [Me] will be broken to pieces,” He uses the Greek word synthlao. There are two components to this word. The base is thlao, which means to be broken or crushed. The second component is a prefix. If you know your Greek roots, then you know that syn means “with”.
I had a revelatory moment there in my Greek concordance.
A better translation of this verse (if I may be so bold) would be, “Everyone who falls on [Me] will be broken with Me.”
Here is the truth: God’s kind of brokenness is the never-alone kind. Jesus is with us in our broken state. In fact, He is knowns what it is to be broken.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5
Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. After he has suffered, 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. Isaiah 53:10-11
We share in the fellowship of brokenness with Jesus! What a wonder to find that we have something in common with the Son of God. The thing we may fear most is the thing that we will not be abandoned in.
Take note: we have access to the most intimate experience this universe has to offer. By shedding pride and self-sufficency, we open our broken hearts to Him, and He begins to touch us and heal us in places we thought were too far beyond reach. And there, in that fellowship of brokenness, we learn an unfathomable secret. It’s a secret unknown to anyone who hasn’t risked being broken.
Being broken is never the end of the road.
Instead, it opens up paths we never thought accessible.
In our fear, we think that brokenness is the end of everything. We think we won’t recover. Christ’s brokenness certainly wasn’t the end of the road, was it? I stated earlier that voluntary brokenness is far more fruitful than the alternative, and it couldn’t be more true in the case of Jesus and His willingness to be broken on the cross. It opened up paths that had long been concealed: salvation by grace alone, victory over the flesh, a Spirit-filled life, and so much more.
When we share the fellowship of brokenness with Jesus, we not only share the pain, but we share the fruit that comes. Release from strongholds. Opened doors. New depths in our relationship with Him. Embracing brokenness allows God to take us in a completely different direction– on a path to the places He has planned and dreamed for us since He knit us together in the womb.
Are you contemplating brokenness? Wondering if you’ll survive if you surrender to it? Let me encourage you, as one who is standing on the other side of the most significant period of brokenness in my life. I speak absolute truth when I confess that I would do it again. In fact, I’m fairly certain that I will do it again at some point along the way. It’s worth it. Just remember synthlao– the fact that He walks with you in brokenness. And remember that being broken is really only the beginning of something new and glorious….
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