Minute of Exercise on Brokenness (2009)

Thursday Evening, 6th Month 11

Our answer to the query: How does brokenness affect my experience of the Light of Christ?

Brokenness is useful in bringing us to God. Sometimes it takes physical pain to bring a person to the physician’s office to seek help. Likewise spiritual affliction can be the trigger than brings us to the feet of Christ. Brokenness shakes me out of complacency and comfort. Brokenness humbles me so that God can teach me to trust. We are all vessels of God. When we are broken, God’s light shines through the cracks, and we can be filled with God’s Light. When I am feeling joyful, it is likely that I will thank God. But when I am in pain and sorrow, I am likely to ask for help and thus find the strength and power of God.

God works through our brokenness. If the vessel a potter is making is not quite right, the potter may need to throw the clay back on the wheel to be completely reformed into the vessel that the potter wants. (see Jeremiah 18: 1-6) Through my brokenness, God has shown me His mercy, His love, and His tenderness. God gives us the rest we need when brokenness gets too hard. God gives us people who love us, care for us, and help us when we are helpless in brokenness. When I am broken in small ways, I can go to God, pray, talk with other people, and be comforted.

Brokenness can be so dark that God cannot be found. In deep darkness, it seems impossible to go to God, and there is no comfort. Human words of comfort do not help, and we cannot feel understood by anyone, not even God. There is only darkness and confusion. But God is really still there, and still leading. Even in our anger and struggle, we remain connected to God. I cannot know that fear and discomfort will never engulf me again. I have to have faith that God will always be there even when He seems not to be, and that I will never truly be lost from God. My brokenness blocks the Light. It blocks my ability to trust, for I fear that I will know worse brokenness, with no way of return. My pride, my self-centeredness, my will rise up and block the Light, and I cannot let go. But I have to let go, and trust that the history of my relationship with God is proof that God will see me through again now.

God can make hope real. Brokenness can only be fixed at a depth that is beyond human conception. “God is love….Perfect love casteth out fear.” (1 John 4:16, 18) When I look back, I can see that when I have been the most afraid and broken, miracles have abounded. Now I can remember those miracles when I am in the midst of fear, and I can trust that God’s presence and help are with me. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God….” (Romans 8:28)

Brokenness is a special challenge for men in our culture. “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” who know their need of God. But men are raised to be in charge, to be tough, and to be independent with respect to the world. It is hard to switch from that independence to being needy before God. But if you maintain a hardened heart under stress, your heart breaks instead of bending. Will we always have to hide our tears? It is hard to show our brokenness. Can we as a faith community give our men permission to admit to brokenness? That is the first step in letting the Light of Christ into the deep dark places within us.

Brokenness prepares us to serve. “O Lord,…thou desires not sacrifice, else would I give it. Thou delightest not in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” (Psalm 51: 16-17) Times of sorrow and pain teach me to reach out to others when they are in pain, that I may share Christ’s Light with them.

A nightly prayer of surrender, consent, and confession. I start my prayer acknowledging that the Lord is in charge, and without Him, I’m not much. It is easier to say “I surrender” than to surrender. I ask God’s help to surrender.

I tell God that I consent for His Holy Spirit to work in me to point out those things in me that I need to change, those things that prevent God from dwelling in me, from teaching me, from teaching me, from using me for God’s purposes.

I confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, the Son of God, and that I am a sinner. There are times when I do not put the Lord, my God, first in my life. There are times when I do not love my neighbor in the way we are told. There are times that I have thoughts that I know are not pleasing to the Lord, and I ask to be freed of those thoughts. When I pray on my knees, change takes place within me. I confess that I love the Lord, I trust Him, I thank Him, I praise Him.

—Recorded by Susan Smith