Many of us might agree with the worldwide epidemic, political dissension, unemployment, death of loved ones, financial setbacks, racial tensions, mass murders and emotional uncertainty — we may wonder is God still in control? God is bigger than any of the mentioned problems, national or personal, and he will bring something good out of everything that we are going through if we place our hope and faith in him (Romans 8:28).
Before a plant can come from the Earth, a seed must be broken. Water must break for a pregnancy to occur. A wild horse must be broken before anyone can ride it. The seal of cologne or perfume must be cracked before the aroma emerges. The shell of a nut must be cracked before the enjoyment of the nut can be experienced. In other words, to get to the core of a thing — it’s benefits — a breaking often occurs. In order for believers to have Kingdom encounters with the living God, they often must be broken first. Broken of independence. Broken of pride. Broken of self-reliance. Without brokenness, we won’t experience seeing God with our own eyes. A sense of God’s reality will evade us. The reason some of us are still waiting on our breakthrough is that we’ve not yet been broken. We have not yet been to the place where God has been free to express himself to us, for us and through us in a way we can appreciate and understand.
Psalm 138:6 helps us to see the truth: “For though the Lord is exalted, yet he regards for the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.”
Far too many believers have a long-distance relationship with God. We have an “afar” relationship rather than an up-close experience of him because we insist on not being broken. Yet brokenness (lowliness or humility) is a criterion of a Kingdom encounter. When that doesn’t take place, God remains a theological concept stuck up on the shelf instead of a dynamic reality in our souls.
To be broken means to be stripped of our self-sufficiency. It means realizing our absolute need for God. It is discovering that “apart from me you can do nothing” (John 5:5). And the last time we checked — nothing means nothing. As long as we live independently of God with a self-sufficient mindset, we remain unbroken. And as long as we remain unbroken, we remain unchanged.
I would like to debunk a myth that many Christians believe, and most of us quoted it or had it quoted to us. But unfortunately, it’s not true. And when we live our lives in alignment with a lie that will only produce pain, emptiness and a continual gap in our experiences and encounters with God.
“God will not put on us more than we can bear.” Yes, that may sound good. It may even sound like it’s in the Bible somewhere. It definitely can make us feel good. But the truth is — it’s not true. There are times in our lives when God will put more on us than we can bear on our own. Paul writes about the time when he suffered from hopeless thoughts and a desire to give up altogether. This is the great Apostle Paul. This is the Paul who penned a large portion of the entire New Testament. Yet he struggled. He suffered. He felt like throwing in the towel.
“For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our light affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, he on whom we have set our hope. And he will yet deliver us” (2 Corinthians 1:8-10).
Sometimes God will let us be put in a death-grip where we feel so burdened with pain and problems that the temptation we face is one of giving up. We just feel like we can’t make it another day. When God puts us in that situation, he is trying to break us for the purpose of remaking us.
I can promise that none of the struggles we endure are wasted by God. They are part of the process by which he transforms us from the inside out. All throughout the Bible, there are stories of how people met God in powerful ways in the middle of some of their hardest experiences. Their encounters should inspire us to be ready for the same kind of encounter with God. I pray their encounters will encourage us in our personal encounters with him.