Everyone is broken in some way, and life is far too short not to deal with it. An honest description of who I am would be, “Mike is a broken man who is in the process of being healed by Jesus.” Brokenness usually comes from two main sources: We can be broken because someone sinned against us, and we can be broken because of the sins we commit. Ignoring our brokenness and hoping it just goes away can be tempting. Many times we attempt to bury it and forget about it, but then it returns with a vengeance during a time of stress. A key question then becomes what do we do with our brokenness? I have learned there are several helpful things we can do with it.
First, we must admit to our brokenness. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:3). Blessing will not come until we admit that we are broken and in need of God’s help. I don’t think the Apostle Paul ever forgot his brokenness. He said, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst” (1 Tim 1:15). Note that he said “I am the worst,” not “I was the worst.”
Once we have admitted that we have brokenness, we can cry out to God. We can cry out for both forgiveness and healing. One of the benefits of crying out to God is that Scripture tells us that “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted” (Ps 34:18). I have often advised students who are in pain because of the brokenness in their lives to go and scream and yell at God in their pain. This especially works well in autumn on our campus that is bordered on one side by a large cornfield. On occasion, I have recommended that students take a walk into the cornfield, shouting their complaints to God.
God deeply understands our pain, and he is big enough to take any negative emotions we have that need letting out. I believe that we can be angry at God and still be respectful. One need look only as far as the psalms of lament in the Old Testament. David cries out to the Lord, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?” (Ps 13:1–2). Have you ever noticed how many prayers of complaint there are in the Bible from believers such as Job and Jeremiah? Greg Pruett, in a powerful little book called Extreme Prayer, points out that “complaining is allowed with one major condition: we must continue to faithfully obey and follow him in spite of our suffering.”
Reflections: What are the most painful and broken areas of your life? Can you name things that come from sin you have committed and things that come from your having been sinned against? Find a place to be alone in a car or in a cornfield and cry out to the Lord for healing and forgiveness.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.