Where Brokenness Meets Breakthrough
Mar 24, 2019 05:28AM
By Bonnie Lyn Smith
*Photo credit: Deror avi, CC BY-SA 3.0
I’m no stranger to brokenness. In some ways, it’s the best seat in the house. As painful as it is to know this about myself (and I’m reminded frequently), it’s also so freeing. You see, from this seat I can see Jesus more clearly. I’m reminded of my desperate need for the Christ. I know how badly every thought of mine needs His refiner’s fire.
Malachi 3:3, ESV
He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD.
I’ve surrounded myself with relationships I can trust to do this for me: prayer circles, one-on-one time together, and the wisdom of the Titus 2 women in my life.
Titus 2:3-5, ESV
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
My safest relationships are real with me, raw and gritty, honest. And through that shared journey of trouble and triumph, we are iron sharpening iron with each other.
Proverbs 27:17, ESV
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
I’ve known suicidal thinking, significant depression and anxiety, abandonment issues, and overwhelming doses of empathy. There are times I can’t linger long among a group of hurting people. I soak it in and have to take it to God to find out to whom I should respond.
Like many “feeler” personalities, I only know how to love big. Notice I did not say perfectly. Just big. Consequently, I risk more emotionally than I should. I let people in first and look back later. Sometimes this works out, and sometimes it doesn’t.
I’ve had several seasons of my life in which God stripped away the dead branches (areas of no growth) and rebuilt me from top to bottom.
Each time He did this, I felt very humanly alone.
Sometimes loss or trauma was a trigger, and at other times, He simply wanted to remove something from my life that was not bringing health or perhaps was an idol I put ahead of my love for and focus on Him.
And every single time, He met me at that broken place, held me closely, showed me what to let go of, and pointed me in a new direction. Each new version of me hopefully grew in maturity and spiritual understanding.
But this side of heaven, please understand, I am still very broken.
And so are you.
Until that great day when we stand before God, when Jesus stands in front of those of us who believe and declares our ransom fully paid to the Father, welcoming us into eternal glory, our scars will still ache. This is the human condition.
Jeremiah 8:21-22, ESV
For the wound of the daughter of my people is my heart wounded; I mourn, and dismay has taken hold on me.
Is there no balm in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?
Why then has the health of the daughter of my people
not been restored?
Here Jeremiah is crying out for his people. He is looking for a healing balm over hurting, suffering hearts.
The truth is the Balm in Gilead is Jesus. He came to heal our wounds.
1 Peter 2:24, ESV
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
And while our hope is in that eternal truth of Christ, in the meantime, our scars can help people. Our lessons in meeting Jesus in our brokenness can bring breakthrough to others. They are a sacrifice to God.
Psalm 51:17, ESV
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
We need other people to see the reality of our white-lined scars from the bumps and scrapes of life…and sometimes even our angry red scars. If our figurative "sleeves" always cover up the places where life jabbed us, who is going to believe Jesus meets us in our brokenness?
For two years now, one of my children has been broken in multiple ways: physically, emotionally, and to some extent, spiritually. She cannot ever do anything that puts in question God’s love for her, but her medical protocols, layering diagnoses, fatigue levels, and low social energy levels have made it all feel like one nonstop, uphill battle. She trusted her heart to humans, and like the rest of us, humans don’t know what to do with brokenness on that level.
But God does. Oh my sweet child, God does.
And when her hurting heart was most vulnerable, trying to understand God’s plan in the struggle, she needed the Balm in Gilead.
When she shared her scars, fears, and doubt, whether she realized it in the moment or not, she was really crying out to the Balm in Gilead.
When she put it all out there, only the Balm in Gilead would do.
When scars keep accumulating with no end in sight, oh, Sweet Balm in Gilead, how she needs You!
Knowing that place of brokenness as well as I do (we’re pretty much roommates—brokenness and I), this is what I told her:
I like your scars. Your scars will one day help people. I love that you don’t pretend you have all the answers. I love that God’s (not man’s) holiness is all you need. Lean into the very real Presence of Abba (Father) God, where all that is sore finds the Balm in Gilead.
We often think “breakthrough” in our struggles means full healing, resolution, and restoration.
Those are wonderful goals to pray for, and with Jesus, we have hope that within His will they are attainable, but the real breakthrough?
The real breakthrough is knowing the Balm in Gilead more deeply, bringing our lives more into His alignment, trusting Him in greater ways, and believing how deep and great and wide His love is for us.
Our brokenness may not yet resolve, but if we understand Jesus as the Balm in Gilead, breakthrough has already come!
Hallelujah! Our God reigns!
Ephesians 3:14-21, ESV
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith--that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
She is the author of Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day and the founder and editor-in-chief of Ground Truth Press, a book publishing company.