Today's "thought" confronts us with a reality we sometimes wish were not so. Yet, it's a truth proclaimed both in Scripture and from the mouths or pens of numerous saints throughout history: Brokenness is the pathway to spiritual fruitfulness. Before God can truly use you, He must first break you. As much as we might wish it were otherwise, it is true. This selection comes from the devotional, "Streams in the Desert" by L. B. Cowman (with added content). Enjoy.
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God,
you will not despise.”
“Those people God uses most to bring glory to Himself are those who are completely broken, for the sacrifice He accepts is, "a broken and contrite heart.” It was not until Jacob’s natural strength was broken, when “his hip was wrenched” at Peniel (Gen. 32:25), that he came to the point where God could clothe him with spiritual power. It was not until Moses struck the rock at Horeb, breaking its surface, that cool “water flowed out of it for the people to drink” (Ex. 17:6). It was not until Gideon’s three hundred specially chosen soldiers “broke the jars that were in their hands” (which symbolized brokenness in their lives, Judg.7:19), that the hidden light of the torches shone forth and brought terror to their enemies.
It was once the poor widow broke the seal on her only remaining jar of oil and began to pour it out that God miraculously multiplied it to pay her debts and thereby supplied her means of support (2 Kings 4:1–7). It was not until Esther risked her life and broke through the strict laws of a heathen king’s court that she obtained favor to rescue her people from death (Est. 4:16). It was only when Jesus took “the five loaves . . . and broke them” (Luke 9:16) that the bread was multiplied to feed the five thousand. It was through the loaves being broken that the miracle occurred. It was when Mary broke her beautiful “alabaster jar of very expensive perfume” (Matt. 26:7), and destroyed its future usefulness and value, that the wonderful fragrance filled the house.
Mary (the mother of Jesus) was not only told of the joy of her being chosen by God to give birth to the Messiah, but that her heart would be pierced also -- cut and broken in two, as if by a sword. Overwhelming grief would cut deep into the joys of bearing and raising Jesus. Peter was broken of his stubborn pride through the crushing and humiliating experience of denying Jesus three times in His hour of greatest need. Yet, through such failure and humiliation, he was made more humble and dependent on the Spirit, readied through the pain of brokenness to lead the early church. Heartless Paul was broken on the road to Damascus as Christ appeared to him and blinded him, and he was led helpless, dazed, humbled, and broken in spirit, into the city, like a little child. Likewise, it was when Jesus allowed His precious body to be broken by thorns, nails, and a spear, that His inner life was poured out like an ocean of crystal-clear water for thirsty sinners to drink and live!
It is not until a beautiful kernel of corn is buried and broken in the earth by DEATH, that its inner heart sprouts heavenward and grows to produce hundreds of other seeds or kernels. And so it has always been throughout history — GOD USES BROKEN THINGS. Those who have been gripped by the power of the Holy Spirit and are used for God’s glory are those who have been broken in their finances, broken in their self-will, broken in their ambitions, broken in their lofty ideals, broken in their worldly reputation, broken in their desires, and often broken in their health. Yes, He uses those who are despised by the world and who seem totally hopeless and helpless, just as Isaiah said: “The lame will carry off plunder” (Isa. 33:23).
‘Oh, break my heart; but break it as a field is plowed and broken for the seeds of corn… Oh, break my heart; break it, victorious God, that life’s eternal well may flow abroad... Break it as when the captive trees, breaking icy bonds, regain their liberties. And as thought’s sacred grove to life is springing, be joys, like birds, their hope, Your victory singing.’ (Thomas Toke Bunch)”
This theme is spoken of repeatedly throughout church history. Martin Luther once wrote in similar terms suggesting: “God creates out of nothing. Therefore, until a man nothing, God can make nothing out of Him.” Another saint said, “God always builds on ruins.” Alan Redpath said: “God will never plant the seed of His life upon the soil of a hard, unbroken spirit. He will only plant that seed where the conviction of His Spirit has brought brokenness, and where the soil has been watered with tears of repentance as well as tears of joy.” Hudson Taylor the famous missionary to China said, “When God wants to do His great works, He trains somebody to be quiet enough and little enough, and then He uses that person.” Revival, says Isaiah, comes not to those who think they have it together, but to the broken: “This is what the high and lofty One says – He who loves forever and whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and revive the heart of the contrite.” (57:15). Being broken is never pleasant, but it is the path that leads to spiritual fruit and usefulness.
The way God makes us whole is to permit us to go through experiences that "break us" — because brokenness is the pathway to wholeness and restoration. Pride is like steel that must be softened in the heat of the furnace before it becomes something that can be formed and molded. The human heart is by nature like hard parched ground which must be watered with tears, and broken by the plow of trials, before the seed of His word can penetrate and take root. The will of man is like a hard lump of clay which the Potter must first pound and squeeze and stretch and then repeat the process all over again, before he can then take it and make it into a beautiful piece of colorful pottery. Lord, how we wish there was an easier way...
In His Service, Pastor Jeff