Brokenness... This could be the most broken, anxious and dejected generation in history. Around 20% of all Australian’s aged 16-85, 1 in 5, suffer from anxiety and/or depression, that equates to around 3.5 million of us clinically depressed.
We have more things, more ways to communicate and more opportunities than any generation in history, yet more of us are more anxious, depressed and utterly broken by life than ever before.
When something is broken, we generally don’t equate that with blessing. Oh, I lent you my car and you broke it… wow, I feel so blessed! The love of my life just broke my heart,… awesome, I feel so blessed! Yeah right.
Brokenness, in our life or in anything, is usually associated with pain and loss. So to start a series equating brokenness of spirit with blessings seems paradoxical, but it can become reality for you.
We all experience brokenness in our lives at some time. The overwhelming feeling that your entire world is shattered. You don’t want to raise your head off the pillow, you feel like the tears will never stop flowing. Sometimes there’s a void in your heart that seemingly cannot be filled, a sorrow that cannot be comforted, a wound for which there seems no healing.
And you’re not alone in feeling like this. I just spoke at a Junior High camp, and one of the leaders who is a Youth Pastor told me that more than half of his youth group is being medicated for anxiety and depression.
If you get knocked down enough, you can feel broken and crushed in spirit.
BROKENNESS IS NOT ALWAYS BAD
Hosea 10:12 (ESV Strong's)
Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.
Fallow ground is long term, it’s hard and crusty and like cement. Over the years, many of us become tough and hard, set in our ways and unwilling or unable to change, even to grow, and unresponsive to God.
Though it may not feel great at the time, Brokenness exposes the real you underneath. It’s painful, it’s hard work, but we must keep our eyes not on the depressive pain of the moment but on ultimately what God has in store for us.
Jim Wilson writes,
Brokenness isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A farmer doesn’t plant his crop in cement; rather, he chooses good soil, breaks it up, and then sows the seed. Unbroken soil does not produce abundant crops, but broken, cultivated soil incubates life. A butterfly could never flutter in the spring air without breaking its cocoon and neither could an eaglet emerge without breaking its shell.
Jesus could not feed the four thousand until he broke the bread (Mark 8:1-8). The sinful woman could not pour the costly perfume over Jesus until she broke the alabaster box (Luke 7:37). We could never know salvation without Jesus’ broken body (1 Corinthians 11:24).
In many ways, we are not useful until we are broken.
LIFE INVOLVES BROKENNESS
Life often involves brokenness. Often there’s a combination of many causes which add together to form debilitating and overwhelming condition we recognise as brokenness.
Someone might hurt you, let you down, attack you or speak ill of you. A situation might break your heart, or a loss, or a fear. Then you lose sleep thinking about it, so you find yourself tired and flat and run down. Next up, your immunity is compromised, so add sickness on top of everything else, and so your misery compounds.
Listen, if you’ve experienced this you are not unique. Everyone does at some time, and often there is no immediate cure. I cannot wave a magic wand this morning and make it all better, but we can covenant to walk the road with you. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s not an oncoming train!
Psalms 34:18 (ESV Strong's)
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
I can’t make your brokenness heal quicker. I can’t solve your life’s problems. But I can offer you a firm hope, and that is this… in my experience, if you turn to the Lord in your brokenness, He is close, closer than ever before, and He is ready to save your crushed spirit.
So don’t focus on the path of brokenness you are currently walking, focus instead on the fact that it will not last forever, and when you come out the other side, the blessing will be greater than ever before.
WHAT PRICE BLESSING?
Most of us want blessing in our lives, we want to be mature, successful, godly and have blessed family, finances and life.
I once saw a Ferrari, and I thought that’s a beautiful car. I thought to myself, I can’t afford to have a car like that. But then I stopped and reflected… if I sold my business, my house, my computers and maybe a child, I could probably afford that car. Thing is… I don’t want it that bad.
So how bad do you want to be blessed? The Psalmist wrote
Psalms 71:20 (ESV Strong's)
You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again.
So how bad do you want to be blessed of God and used to bless others? In an age where most Christians seem to think that God is their personal slave, to get them the prosperity or healing they want, any talk about brokenness seems to fly in the face of popular preaching.
But God is more interested in changing what we desire, far more than he is in giving us what we demand. God is constantly refining us, fashioning us, and making us into the people He has destined us to be. But like a sculpture, the process involves chipping bits of stone off us, and that’s painful. Yet as we are broken, but by bit, an new, better, beautiful you emerges.
GROWTH IS A PROCESS
Growth is a process. It includes setbacks, failures, pain, hard lessons, and yes, brokenness. It involve both spiritual growth, and the renewal of our minds and emotions.
Old habits die hard. Old desires cling to us despite our best efforts. Old sins, old struggles, old relationships, all of these take time, and pain, to overcome. But while the process might be painful and difficult, the result is none the less good.
So, instead of running from brokenness and avoiding it at all costs, I’d encourage you to take your pain to the Lord. Today you can look beyond your brokenness to the blessing that will come if you fully yield your like to the Lord.
James 1:2-4 (ESV Strong's)
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
BROKENNESS TO CREATE A PERFECT VESSEL
Jeremiah 18:3-6 (ESV Strong's)
I went down to the potter's house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.
Then the word of the Lord came to me: “can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand
Have you ever watched a potter at work. If he creates something that is flawed, perhaps a design fault or a bubble in it, then he doesn’t try and accommodate the flaw… he just breaks it up again, smashes it down into the wheel, and starts afresh.
The potter’s purpose is not to destroy his work, but rather, to make a more beautiful, more perfect work—to shape and fashion something more wonderful and more functional.
And that’s also how our heavenly potter shapes our lives. Sometimes He can repair a small imperfection, but often times He sees fit to break that piece of clay back to its original form and start again building something far better. I know it hurts, but let the pain drive you to God, not away from Him.
If you’re feeling broken, feeling flat, feeling let down or tired or sick or just miserable, then you need to step back and let the potter have a His way. You can try and shape your life, sure, but it won’t be as good as what the master can do.
ALLOW THE POTTER TO RESHAPE YOUR LIFE
The purpose of this first message in the series is simply to ask you to yield to the hands of the Master Potter.
Most of us are pretty self sufficient. We know what we want in life, and we shape our own pot and follow our own destiny. And sometimes brokenness is a wake up call to say, hey, stop trying to shape yourself and let the Master have a go.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
When you come to Jesus, it’s a new start, but it’s not the end, it’s only the beginning of your new life. The growth, the moulding, the shaping, the maturing takes time, takes effort, takes discipline and it takes pain to become what God wants.
This is why Paul could write,
Romans 8:28 (ESV Strong's)
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
All things, even the pain, even the brokenness, even at your lowest point, He is there.
Psalms 23:4 (ESV Strong's)
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Overcoming brokenness and being shaped into the person God wants is not a passive task on your part. You’re still involved, but the difference is you need to yield to the Lord, and not be in control.
Yielding means that instead of getting angry at God, getting bitter, or jumping to solve everything yourself, you trust in God and rejoice in the fact that, despite the pains He is shaping your life into something beautiful.
Amy Carmichael tells the story of being in an Indian potter’s workshop. He asked her to to try and make a pot. She tried, but was a dismal failure. He asked her to try again, and she refused, but he insisted. This time though, the potter asked her to relax her hands completely, and he sat behind her, and he placed his hands over hers. Then as the wheel turned, the potters hands guided hers, and a beautiful pot was formed. He congratulated her on making a perfect pot, but she said she hadn’t done it, he had. Oh no, he replied, there’s no clay on my hands, you are the one who made it, not I.
IT’S TIME TO LET GO
Remember that old song… something beautiful, something good, all my confusion He understood. All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife, but He made something beautiful of my life.
That’s the challenge if you are broken today, even if you have been for a long time. Maybe your heart has been broken, maybe your health, your finances, your family or your life. If you feel crushed, if you’ve suffered loss, if you’ve tried and tried and done your best, but you still feel broken inside, and your tired of the struggle.
Today it’s time to let go, to let your hands go limp and allow God, the Master Potter to guide you and create the beautiful destiny He has in mind for you. You can trust Him, you can let go and allow Him to mould and shape you into your destiny.
I know some of you are tired. You’re flat, you’re broken, you’re down. Sometimes you just want to cry, or run away, or just stay in bed. But don’t stay broken a moment longer than you need to. Don’t blame God, because He doesn’t bring pain to your life and He’s hurting too. But yield to Him, and let Him make lemonade out of the lemons life has handed you.
It all starts with a decision. A decision to let go and let God take control of your hands on the potter’s wheel.
Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV Strong's)
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
If you’re weary, burdened, bruised or broken, if you’re tired of the fight, tired of the seemingly endless brokenness, then this morning God is calling you. In brokenness there is hope, the incredible hope of blessings. It all starts with a decision…
It’s time to yield to Him.