I will never forget the time when I broke my surfboard completely in half. I was a young teenager, enjoying the hollow sandbar at Salt Creek Beach in sunny southern California when I surfed into a closeout wave. Upon surfacing after my sudden wipeout, I was horrified to see only half of the board that I paddled out with. The other three feet of broken foam and fiberglass was bobbing its way to shore. Although breaking surfboards in the surf is a fairly common occurrence, this was the first time that it happened to me. I can remember feeling shocked, and then a sort of empty feeling came over me. What now? My only board was useless and my day of surfing was over. In fact, all my days of surfing would be over until my board was eventually repaired. Fortunately, I worked at a surf shop at the time and I was able to have the broken board professionally repaired. Similar to broken bones that are surgically repaired, if repaired correctly, the location of the repair on a surfboard, although scarred, will be much stronger than before it was broken. It would be extremely rare for my surfboard to break again in the same spot after it had been repaired. My board was now a bit heavier, it was scarred, but it was now much stronger and ready for use. I vividly remember enjoying some of my best surf sessions on my broken (now repaired) surfboard. One such memorable session was at San Miguel Point in Baja Mexico. My broken (repaired) board worked so well for me and it became one of my all-time favorite boards. This story could be an analogy of how God intends for us to be broken in order to be stronger for His good use.
There are many other examples of things that must be broken in order that they can be used correctly. One other example I like to think about is glow sticks. Glow sticks are fairly useless and do not serve their purpose until they are broken. Once the glass capsule is broken, mixing the chemical solutions, thus creating an exothermic reaction, the glow sticks glow! We are no different. Unless we are broken, we can be spiritually dull and we may not “glow” the way we ought to. Once we are broken and we humbly submit our will to God, we become more like Christ, we become lights, more spiritually and emotionally bright, more fully aware of our dependence on God, and more readily available to be used by God.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor. 12:9-10 ESV).
In his book, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, author Peter Scazzero explains that the more we are able to be broken before God, the less we are likely to be offended by people. He encourages his reader to imagine “a broken person who is so secure in the love of God that she is unable to be insulted. When criticized, judged, or insulted, she thinks to herself, It is far worse than you think!” (pg. 128). We must remain broken before the Lord, being fully aware of our complete dependence upon Him. We become more capable of experiencing the life that God intended us to live when we embrace brokenness. When we are broken people, we are more likely to fulfill the greatest commandment of loving the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength; and loving our neighbors as ourselves.
God, in His sovereignty, does not hesitate to allow pain and suffering to break us from the grip of sin that will ultimately defeat us and render us useless. God, in His kindness, will allow pain and suffering into our lives in order that we will be broken in submission to Him and will become the humble servants that He desires to use. God, in His mercy, will allow discomfort to mold us more into His image so that we may experience His transforming power in our lives. Every bit of our pride, arrogance, and self-will must be broken (daily) in order that we understand ourselves to be no better than any other person that God has ever created. Brokenness allows us to see clearly, that without God, we can absolutely do nothing. Every breath that we take in this life is a gift from God. Brokenness is the total awareness that we are utterly dependent on Him and are submitted to Him. Brokenness enables us to surrender the throne of our lives to God and allows Him to take the throne.
Despite his dark sins, King David is highly admired and revered by Christians and religious leaders as one of the most heroic Bible characters to ever walk the Earth. We are told in Scripture that David was “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14). But what qualifies such a statement? I have come to believe that it was David’s brokenness that made him such an admirable king whom God used in such divine and powerful ways. The Psalms of David, as recorded in Scripture, are divinely inspirational, articulate, full of life and power, filled with songs of worship, transformation, repentance, and praise. They contain Messianic prophecy, substantiate theological standards, are part of God’s Eternal Living Word, and were penned by a servant of God who knew brokenness. Next time you read a Psalm of David, no matter which one, read it with the awareness that it was written from the perspective of a man who learned brokenness.
The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. (Psalm 51:17 NLT)
In his book, A Tale of Three Kings, author Gene Edwards artistically compares and contrasts Saul, David, and Absalom. The book is a fascinating study in brokenness. Edwards writes about how God allowed pain and suffering into David’s life in order that he would become the great king that God desired him to be. David continually dodged death as he ran from Saul for well over a decade. God used great agony, betrayal, and hardship to prepare David, to break David, and to make sure that David did not ever become like Saul. Edwards writes, “Suffering was giving birth. Humility was being born. By earthly measures he was a shattered man; by heaven’s measure, a broken one.” (pg. 32).
Brokenness is the key. Brokenness is what paves the way for humility, surrender, and submission to God. It was his brokenness that confirms that David was a man after God’s own heart. As we know, David committed horrible sins, but he learned to be broken before the Lord. David confessed his sins, he repented, and he turned from his sins. Thankfully however, there is a sinless King who came from the line of David, who was ultimately broken on our behalf.
And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19 ESV)
Jesus was broken for us! Brokenness is at the heart of the Gospel. Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin on our behalf (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus, being God in the flesh, humbled himself and was obedient to the point of death on the cross (Phil. 2:6-8). Jesus was literally bruised, beaten, and broken in order that our broken relationship with God could be reconciled through Christ’s blood and His broken body. Jesus is the ultimate example of complete brokenness. We must remember that death must occur in order to experience a glorious resurrection. Jesus has the ability to take the worst possible situation and turn it into the best possible miracle. God admires brokenness, He uses brokenness, He honors brokenness, and He ultimately brings salvation through brokenness. God uses brokenness to bring about healing and strength. We do not need to be afraid of being broken. Being broken is good. I pray that I would be broken, ready for use everyday.
Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength (1 Cor. 15:43 NLT).
~Recommended reading for further insight on this topic:
A Tale of Three Kings: A Study in Brokenness, Gene Edwards, Tyndale House Publishers.
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: It’s Impossible to Be Spiritually Mature, While Remaining Emotionally Immature, Peter Scazzero, HarperCollins Christian Publishing.
The Broken Way : A Daring Path into the Abundant Life, Ann Voskamp, HarperCollins Christian Publishing.