In my previous post I discussed what it means to be broken. Brokenness is the abandoning of one’s own will and submitting to God. For this to be possible, you must first let go of pride and humble yourself before the Lord, as well as those around you.
Charles Spurgeon said; “He that humbles himself under the hand of God shall not fail to be enriched, uplifted, sustained, and comforted by the ever-gracious One. It is a habit of Jehovah to cast down the proud, and lift up the lowly.” This truth is found throughout God’s word. In James chapter four we read; “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” When we realize how weak we actually are and become aware of the fact that without God we can do nothing, we begin to understand the infinite power and wisdom of our Creator.
It is vital that we recognize our strength comes from Him, not from any ability we have ourselves. The idea that we can do anything apart from His enabling grace is frighteningly prideful. It is by Him, through Him, and for Him that we can do anything. The purpose of our existence is to bring glory to God. If we are focused on ourselves and the things that we accomplish, we are missing the point.
The Bible makes it clear that God opposes the proud and shows favor to those who are humble (James 4:6). Brokenness is so important, that we are told God may withdraw His presence from us if we live a life rooted in pride. Psalm 138:6 tells us; “Though the Lord is on high, yet He regards the lowly; but the proud He knows from afar.” I have personally experienced times where I felt like He was far from me, later to realize that I had pushed Him away, acting as though I did not have to rely on Him. I find it funny that it is in situations where I feel confident in my ability to handle things myself; I realize just how much I actually need Him!
When we recognize that we have been created by God, for God—that the whole reason for our existence is to bring Him glory—we gain a deeper understanding of our true purpose. Once we concentrate on this truth, it becomes easier to live a life of brokenness. It is hard to be prideful when you realize your life isn’t about you, but rather about praising the One who made you.
“Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.” Proverbs 22:4
Last year I was blessed with the opportunity to go through a women’s bible study at StoneWater Church over the book Brokenness—the Heart God Revives by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Prior to this study I would say that my view of “brokenness” was pretty skewed. Whenever I thought of being broken, I pictured someone who had experienced emotional pain, loss, or heartbreak. Little did I know that this was not even close to what it means to be truly broken!
One of the first things I learned in the study was that brokenness is synonymous with humility. To be broken meant letting go of all pride, becoming transparent, and surrendering to the will of God. In the beginning, I did not think that I had an issue with pride. I never really considered myself to be a prideful person. Boy was I wrong! The deeper I got into the study, the more the Lord revealed areas of sin in my heart that were all rooted in pride. Worrying about what people thought of me, serving others because I felt obligated, not openly sharing my personal struggles, or even expressing new things that God was revealing to me in my walk…each one of these things boiled down to pride—the desire to seem better, stronger than I really was.
A concept that Nancy Leigh DeMoss really hit hard throughout the study was the idea of “taking the roof off” and “letting the walls down.” Taking the roof off is the first step. This refers to letting go of “secret” struggles, being open and honest with our Creator—no longer hiding from God (which is impossible anyway, considering He is omniscient and omnipresent!). It may seem pretty simple, but until I really examined my heart, I did not realize how hard this actually could be.
The next step is letting the walls down. This has to do with letting down your guard toward others—allowing yourself to be truly transparent with those around you. I thought step one was difficult, but that was nothing in comparison to this! Letting down my walls opened me up to a certain kind of vulnerability that I wasn’t used to—by allowing everyone to see all of me, my strengths and my weaknesses, I opened myself up to be seen in a way contrary to what I had kept hidden before. Although it was uncomfortable at first, I can honestly say that the freedom that came with being transparent was incomparable! I no longer felt trapped in my struggles or worried about being in it alone. I realized that I could lean on my brothers and sisters in Christ for support, accountability, and encouragement.
Along with this newfound freedom, I also received an awe-inspiring sense of peace. The first step toward brokenness is letting go of your own pride, your own will, and submitting to the Lord. Nancy says, “Brokenness is the shattering of my self-will—the absolute surrender of my will to the will of God. It is saying “Yes, Lord!” – no resistance, no chafing, no stubbornness—simply submitting myself to His direction and will in my life.”
I have found this to be overwhelmingly true. The more I let go of my pride and cling to Christ, I see just how beautiful brokenness truly is.
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” – Psalm 51:17
Whenever I face trials or difficult situations, I find myself losing hope and emotionally breaking down. I try to figure out why things happen the way they do, and search for solutions. I struggle with being content during my trials, and fully surrendering everything to Him. When it comes down to it, what I struggle with is patience—waiting on God.
According to Webster’s Dictionary, patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without becoming anxious or upset.
I knew I didn’t have much patience, but after reading the definition, I realize just how little I actually have.
Over the past year, I have struggled with both emotional and physical issues. I can definitely say I was not accepting of my suffering at first, and struggled with anxiety and a lack of contentment. There have been days that I found myself feeling at complete peace with my circumstances, knowing that God is in control. But there have also been many times where I seem to forget how sovereign God is and begin to worry about my future, focusing on my want for an answer—to know the end result now. Unfortunately it is easy to let myself become impatient when I wait for God to reveal His will, and to neglect to rest in Him when things are out of my control.
When I think about patience, I realize the struggle comes from me not wanting to give up control. This resistance is rooted in my believing I can figure things out on my own, or thinking I know what’s best for me. A lack of patience is prideful. In her book Brokenness, Nancy Leigh DeMoss says, “Broken people trust in God—they rest in Him and are able to wait for Him to act on their behalf.” This statement is extremely humbling because it makes me realize how little I trust in God when I lack patience for Him to reveal His will, or guide me.
One quote from C. S. Lewis that resonates with me is; “I am sure God keeps no one waiting, unless He sees that it is good for them to wait.” I really believe that is true—God brings us into seasons in our lives where we have to wait and fully rely on Him.
Lamentations 3:25 says, “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.”
The hardships we experience throughout different seasons can be wonderful opportunities for us to grow and experience the unfailing love of Christ in our lives. Sometimes we have to be put in a place of total brokenness—emotionally and spiritually—for us to realize just how much we need Him.
When we endure trials of various kinds, we need to turn to the Lord and rely on His sovereignty—to recognize that HE alone is in control. When we truly understand that, we can find peace in Him.
Psalm 37:7 “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.”
Psalm 40:1 “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.”
Isaiah 64:4 explains how great our God is—He blesses those who wait for Him! “From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for Him.”
It is amazing that there is no other god anyone has created or worshiped that is like our God. Our God is for us, so who can be against us—even during our trials?
The Bible explains that God puts us in seasons of our lives to test our patience and ultimately our faith.
Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”
1 Peter 1:6-7 “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
James 1:2-3 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”
When we realize the Lord is working in us, and let Him work through us, we can bring glory to His name. Just think of the wonderful testimony we can have when others see us struggling, as they wonder how we can persevere or choose to rejoice in our suffering!
God’s word teaches that we will also be blessed for our endurance for the glory of His name.
Hebrews 10:36 says, “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.”
Romans 2:7 explains the promise above as being eternity with Him: “to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.”
Romans 5:1-4 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
Hebrews 12:11 explains that there is reason to rejoice in suffering, knowing in the end God will be glorified and we will be strengthened. “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
The past year has definitely been a struggle for me, but also a blessing. I have experienced a new kind of relationship with God that I never had in the past. I am learning what it means to trust Him and how often I fail in doing so, as well as the freedom that comes when I do put all of my faith in Him. I’ve also felt the peace that surpasses all understanding when I am in close covenant with Him and in obedience, even when it goes against my own will and fleshly desires. I won’t say things are easy, but I know that I have nothing to fear because God will not put me in a situation where He has not equipped me to persevere through it, with Him.
I know I will continue to suffer and experience hardships in this world. But I am confident that He knows what is best for me, and that the blessings to come are far greater than any pain I could experience now.
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” - 1 Peter 5:10