The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18, NIV).
It is very interesting to note how this verse says “the Lord is close.” So what is the opposite? The Lord is far away. He is distant from someone who is not broken. The way to have God near to you is to be humble and broken. As long as we are stubborn and hard and unbending, He will be far from us.
But the kind of people God will never despise or walk away from are the individuals who live with a broken spirit and a contrite heart. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—these, O God, You will not despise”
Imagine someone dying of hunger. There is food placed before him, but no matter how hard he tries, he cannot eat. The problem is that his mouth is stitched closed and his hands are tied behind his back. Even if someone tried to feed him, he could not receive the food.
In our spiritual life, the same thing can happen. No matter how much God loves us, no matter what He wants to do for us or how earnestly He seeks to bless us, He cannot do anything with a person who closes his heart in pride, refusing to bend and break. And as long as this believer lives on earth, God’s consistent work is going to be to bring him to the place of brokenness.
God never gives up on us until we are broken. Consistently He works with us.
And He uses all kinds of methods. Either He will break our outward man gradually, like one steadily chips away at a large stone, or He will break us suddenly, through some major crisis. Sometimes there is a sudden breaking, followed by gradual. For others, the Lord arranges daily trials, difficulties, difficult people, hard circumstances, physical problems and all sorts of things—you can write your own list—to bring us to the place
God works with each one of us in His way. The way He breaks you may be different from the way He breaks me. And the timing of it all is in His hands. However, we can certainly prolong the process. In some lives, God can bring an individual to the place of brokenness in six months, one year or three years. For some it is a lifelong process—10, 20, 30 years. The saddest of all is wasting such incredible, precious years because of our resistance.
My Personal Experience
The first time I can distinctly remember the experience of being broken, I was about 18. At that time I didn’t understand anything about what was happening, except that it was painful and it hurt.
From the age of 16, I had been involved with a youth evangelistic movement. The Lord had gifted me to teach, but at that time I didn’t realize it was a gift He had given and not something I had of myself.
After a few years with the movement, I was known and recognized for my ability to communicate and teach effectively. I was in great demand by all the area coordinators.
Everybody was asking for me to come to their area because they wanted someone to preach and teach like I was able to do. It’s not that there were no other preachers. It was a young people’s movement—there were only about 300-400 of us. There is a saying, “In a country where nobody has a nose, the one with half a nose is the king.” I mean, in my little world out there, I was the one with half a nose. And I felt really good about my nose! I was in such demand, and I was flying high.
It was during our 30-day conference in Aimer, Rajasthan, that I first began to experience what it means to be broken.
At the end of the conference, each area coordinator selected the people they wanted on their teams for the upcoming season of ministry. Throughout the conference, I was walking around like a peacock with his feathers displayed. I was thinking, “My goodness, what am I going to do when the conference is over? Everybody is going to want me. How am I going to say ‘no’ to so many people? I am going to be in such demand. What am I going to do with myself?”
But when the conference came to an end, I had not been chosen to be on anyone’s team. Nobody wanted me. The selections were made, and I just sat there all alone. One by one, I watched as the teams started to leave.
That evening, one of the senior leaders came to talk to me. He walked me out of the meeting place, through an old beat-up door with a half-broken light hanging down outside it. We walked out into the night and sat on a large stone outside the meeting place. He turned to me and said, “Brother K.P., all the teams are gone. Only five or six individuals are left. You are one of them. Nobody wants you.”
I was totally shaken by that. I didn’t have anything to say. He didn’t tell me this in a nice, cozy living room with us sitting on comfortable chairs. There were no stars shining in the sky; it was a dark night. We just sat on a rock outside. He didn’t put his arm around my shoulders to comfort me. He simply said, “Your pride, your arrogance is the reason.” Then he got up and walked away.
I sat there for a long time. My whole world had collapsed.
The next few days I said to myself over and over again, “I will never preach again. I will never teach again. I don’t ever want to do ministry again. Nobody wants me. They don’t understand how much I have done for them. They don’t know how hard I have worked.” For days I was like this.
Then God, in His mercy and grace, came through and told me, “What he said is true. It is your pride, your stiff neck and your unwillingness to bend.”
By His grace, I had the courage to look back over the past months and years on the teams I had been a part of and realize how impossible to live with I had become—hard-hearted, argumentative and always thinking my way was best. No matter what the leaders suggested, I took a different approach. I had a different idea of how to do it. Regardless of what the argument was, I always sought to win. And most times, I got it my way.
That was the first time I can distinctly remember knowing the need to embrace the cross. I began to understand then that my worst enemy was my own stubborn, unbroken life.
Since then, many more times I have gone through similar experiences. That one time was not the end.
Wherever we are, wherever the Lord has placed us, we need to be sensitive to not resisting brokenness in our lives, ultimately delaying the good work He is trying to fulfill in us. The only person that can delay God’s promise in your life is you—by resisting His breaking.
Other articles in the series "The Beauty of Christ Through Brokenness"
When the Enemy is Us
Why We Need to Be Broken
What Does it Take to be Esteemed by God?