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I’d rather not be broken to pieces, thank you very much.

However, that is what God has in mind for me and for you.

Yes. God will break us, more than once.

Welcome to life with Jesus, the Almighty God. This brokenness is what He desires:

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise (Psalm 51:17).1

The meaning of the Hebrew word “broken” here is clear. It means shatter or smash.

Something like Captain America told the Hulk to do.

And the word “contrite,” while seeming to be a little less, um, destructive, isn’t.

דָּכָה [dakah /daw·kaw/] v. A primitive root (compare 1790, 1792); TWOT 428; GK 1920; Five occurrences; AV translates as “break” three times, “contrite” once, and “crouch” once. 1 to crush, be crushed, be contrite, be broken. 1A (Qal) to be crushed, collapse. 1B (Niphal) to be crushed, be contrite, be broken. 1C (Piel). 1C1 to crush down. 1C2 to crush to pieces.2

So, how does a Christian go about obtaining a broken and contrite spirit? I think the reality of this uncomfortable truth is that it will just simply happen, and, to a lesser or greater extent, is always difficult. No one is immune. Remember, our God will shake everything that can be shaken and is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:25-29).

After telling the Parable of the Master of the Vineyard, and how the vinedressers had refused the owner of the vineyard, this happened:

But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written: ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone’? Whoever falls on that stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder” (Luke 20:17–18).3

Yes, Christian brothers and sisters, you and I will be broken because at one time in our lives we fell upon the Stone, acknowledging our need, our sinful malady. Nevertheless, we may bristle a bit at these words in the wonderful hymn written by Horatio G. Spafford.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,

Let this blest assurance control,

That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,

And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

We may say, “Now, wait a minute. Come on, now. I’m not completely helpless.”

I hope you do not think this way, but the truth is, all too often, I’m not sure that I don’t think this way, too. Oh, prideful humans, created by God, the ones whom God resists.

The good news is that we, if we follow our Savior, will come to admit how feeble we are. It’s a threatening admission. We do not want our weakness to be revealed. Helplessness is contrary to our human thinking. We want to be strong. We want to show how in control we are, how intelligent; how we just know we will come out swinging and winning.

I get that. I do, too. But sooner or later, we will encounter something which will force us to admit that none of the positive attributes we have relied upon will work. And after a series of such events, we will be much more eager to fall on our knees and admit our weakness, our inability to solve problems on our own.

We are not like cultures which, when life is difficult, turn to idols for help. We do not worship idols in the West.

We worship ourselves. When I write, “We worship ourselves,” I do not mean that we fall on our knees, raise our hands and praise and offer thanks, repeating our names. No, worship of another entails trusting in it above all others.

This idol-worshiping human pride God intends to break for our own good. Break, so He can heal and restore because His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9),

God is good and only does what is good for us, so that all might praise His glorious grace (Ephesians 1:3-6).

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,

who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:

“I dwell in the high and holy place,

and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,

to revive the spirit of the lowly,

and to revive the heart of the contrite” (Isaiah 57:15).4

 

1 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

2Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

3The New King James Version. (1982). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

4 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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