What is Brokenness?

We are continuing our meditation on Peter’s 3-time denial of Christ just a few hours before the crucifixion (Scroll down for yesterday’s meditation on Peter’s brokenness). We are saying that the pressure put on Peter was used of God in breaking his heart, in order that he may be reliant on God’s strength rather than his own to lead the disciples. Jesus had said to him earlier: “But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32). But the question remains with us, why would God want to break the heart of one of those He loves?

In Chapter 18 of the book of Jeremiah, the prophet was taken down to the Potter’s house and saw the potter making a jar of clay. It was all bent out of shape and had no beauty or correct shape to be used. The potter took it off the wheel and started again with the pliable clay to form it into what he wanted to create. The lesson that God was teaching Jeremiah and Peter (and us, too) is that through the brokenness, God will reshape every one of us. All He needs is a broken and contrite heart.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise (Psalm 51:17).

A.W. Tozer once said, “God never uses a man greatly until he has hurt him deeply.” How can we define brokenness? Brokenness is the working of God in a person’s life leading to a point of abandonment of one’s self to a place of complete dependence and trust in the Father’s care. John Collinson, an English Vicar, put it this way:

When to do the will of God means that even my Christian brothers will not understand and I remember that even His brothers did not understand or believe in Him, and I bow my head to obey and accept the misunderstanding, this is brokenness. When I am misrepresented, or deliberately misinterpreted, and I remember that Jesus was falsely accused but He held his peace, and I accept the accusation without trying to justify myself, that is brokenness. When another is preferred before me and I am deliberately passed over, and I remember that they cried “away with this man and release unto us Barabbas” and I bow my head and accept rejection, that is brokenness.

When my plans are brushed aside and I see the work of years brought to ruins by the ambitions of others and I remember that Jesus allowed them to lead Him away to crucify Him, and He accepted that place of failure, and I bow my head and accept the injustice without bitterness, that is brokenness. When to be right with my God it is necessary to take the humbling path of confession and restitution, and I remember that Jesus made Himself of no reputation and humbled Himself to death, even the death of the cross, and I bow my head and I’m ready to take the shame of exposure, that is brokenness. When others take unfair advantage of me because I’m a Christian and treat my belongings as public property and I remember that they stripped Him, and parted His garments casting lots, and I bow my head and accept joyfully the spoiling of my goods for His sake, this is brokenness.

When one acts toward me in an unforgivable way and I remember when He was crucified, He prayed “Father forgive them for they know not what they do,” and I bow my head and accept any behavior towards me as permitted by my heavenly Father, this is brokenness. When people expect the impossible of me, and more than time and human strength can give, and I remember that Jesus said, “this is my body which is broken for you” and I repent of my self-indulgence and lack of self-giving for others, this is brokenness.

Wherever these words find you today, if like Peter the apostle, you have just denied your Lord by your actions or words, know that He loves you and will restore you if you will turn to Him in brokenness and repentance: “But in their distress they turned to the LORD God of Israel, and they sought Him, and He let them find Him” (2 Chronicles 15:4).

Taken from the series on the Gospel of Luke, found in the middle column near to the top. To view, click here. Click on study 61, Peter, the Broken Disciple (Luke 22:54-62). Keith Thomas

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