There is a difference between the desirable breaking or redirecting of our self-will (so we become more useful) and the often-destructive breaking of the inner spirit (broken-hearted). We should live in the attitude of brokenness where the focuses is on God but not broken-heartedness that focuses on self, and the inevitable hurtful events of this sinful world. Hardships should not break our spirits or shatter our self-reliance, just the confidence in the natural flesh that we can fight the battles on our own (Prov 15:13, 17:22, 18:14). In God's eyes, brokenness is being so crushed by the sin and darkness of the world that we acknowledge our coping mechanisms don't work in spite of our efforts and we recognise there is no place to turn but to Him. He designs to bring about our spiritual brokenness for His glory and our good. He calls this godly sorrow that because of humility leads to repentance (2 Cor 7:10).

Life’s experiences can have a devastating effect on our whole personality. Depending on our reaction we can either become hard and unresponsive through trying human solutions or else in humility if God is given all the pieces of our broken dreams and we co-operate in His restorative and remodeling programme an inner radiance is produced by a

How do I respond to the crushing events of life?

life yielded and dependant on Him (Isa 61:1). Through coming into wholeness, we can minister with compassion into the lives of those with similar needs from a genuine place of empathy (2 Cor 1:4). In my own strength I can’t but He is more capable than I am and I’ve committed myself into His hands, “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work [in me] will carry it on to completion” (Phil 1:6). All we can offer Him is our brokenness and confusion, from that He can make something of eternal significance and worth, bring wholeness into our personality and effectively work through us as yielded channels ministering life to those in need.

The process: God’s work in us

The hard, God-resistant, self-reliant, proud nature within needs to be broken so we are pliable in His hands to be effectively used in His service. It is the stony hard heart being replaced with a responsive heart of flesh (not carnal, but tender and humble) that yields to His voice (Ezek 11:19, 36:26). Brokenness is an acknowledgement ‘I can’t do it without Him’. There is no joy or usefulness in being broken except to release the potential within. The container needs to be shattered for the contents
to flow out (Mk 14:3). It’s not defeat, rather a place from where we can begin to tap into the endless resources of God. The latent powers within can only come forth as the exterior shell crumbles. From that crushed defective position where what  we held dear is but a pile of rubble and ashes of defeat can arise a new creation as we surrender to His Lordship, moving  on in a continual walk of brokenness and reliance on His provision where the character of Christ shines through.

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Ps 51:17, 147:3). This is not a demeaning stance, instead a place of humble submission and recognition that without Him I can do nothing of eternal value yet I can do all He requires of me through His enabling (Zech 4:6; Jn 5:30; Phil 4:13). God resists the proud but is close to those who are broken (Ps 34:18; Jas 4:6). An unbroken horse is of little value until its immense power and ability is harnessed with its allegiance being redirected from its own futile selfish desires to those of its master and so to be of enormous value to humanity. It is strength under control. It is not destroyed, instead harnessed or channelled constructively. Likewise, the clay on the potter’s wheel does not dictate to the potter but submits to His design, so respond to His directions and the Holy Spirit’s persuasions in our hearts (Isa 64:8). A broken spirit doesn’t resist or fight back, instead it is pliable, responding in submission; ‘Make me and mould me after your will, You are the potter, I am the clay’. God breaks us to remake us what He wants us to be. It is the Holy Spirit (not my efforts) that bring the change through a growing experience of the reality of my union with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.

The process: our surrender

Being broken before God is not a place of weakness, rather a place of surrender, of humble acknowledgement that ‘He is Lord of my life, I give up my rights and desires because He redeemed me, I am no longer my own’. His aim is to release the potential within so we can be more useful in living for His glory and purposes not our own. Often

The potential within is released when the container is broken

coming to the place of being broken is accompanied by tears as we reached the end of our puny resources. We are painfully aware how close sin is to the surface. Something triggers off an issue that we thought had been fully dealt with and we discover to our shame it is alive and well. Yet don’t stay in the place of failure and defeat, repent and move ahead wiser and in closer relationship with the source of life. His dealings with us are designed to break the resistant, self-willed nature so in effect we lay it on the altar of sacrifice – the place of death.

The process: reconciliation

We often make the mistake of trying to get more of God’s power so He can work through us in a greater way. If we are truly born again we have received the Holy Spirit, having the power within. The problem is the unbroken flesh (self-centeredness) preventing the life within being manifest. It’s not that we don’t have the Holy Spirit, it’s a question has He got us? Don't deny Him what is rightfully His.

Bring the broken parts to Jesus for Him to make whole

We all have areas of broken relationship with God, with others and even disconnection within ourselves, displayed by symptoms that originate from our impaired spiritual lives but are evidenced on the emotional level. We need a deep spiritual solution to such issues, not just dealing with the surface symptoms. Relationship reconciliation is the basic starting point, first loving God with our whole being and then our neighbour as ourselves (Mk 12:30,31).

The process: discipline

Brokenness also comes through discipline. “Do not despise the Lord’s discipline because He loves us” (Prov 3:11,12). He desires His life within to be released and flow out to touch humanity (Heb 12:10-12). This can only effectively happen as our self-life is put to death. This is not a one-time event but an ongoing process of being conformed to the image of Christ as we make Him Lord. When we are

In our brokenness we seek Christ through repentance

broken we are open and more willing to listen to God, as He reveals flaws in our character and then asking Him to help us have the victory. God seldom uses arrogant and unbroken people, rather those who are increasingly dependent on Him. True brokenness from God will produce lasting transformation in us, with the reliance on our flesh exchanged for reliance on Christ in us who is our life (Col 3:4). Consider the lives of Moses (who had been brought up as the grandson of Pharaoh), Peter and Paul amongst others who only after repenting from pride were in a fit position to be used by God (Moses – Ex 2:10, 3:11; Num 12:3; Act 7:23-25; Peter – Mt 26:33,35,69-75; Act 2:14ff; Paul – Act 9:1-5; 1 Cor 15:9; Phil 3:4-11). Is it any wonder Peter could later reiterate, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (1 Pet 5:5).

See also: altar, broken-hearted, co-operation, dealings of God, death (to self), disability, discipline, failure, humility, meekness, pride, reconciliation, rights, self-sufficiency, self-will, submission, surrender, wholeness, will.