What is a blessing? So often in our world today, blessing is defined as “prosperity.” But a blessing is so much more.
A blessing from God is a gift that is intended for our eternal benefit or good. A genuine blessing always has an eternal component.
The Brokenness and Blessing of Paul
The apostle Paul knew what it was to be broken, and he also knew what it was to experience God’s blessing, especially the blessing that comes in the wake of brokenness.
No one has the insights, illumination, or inspiration that Paul had. After his encounter with God on the Damascus Road, God called Paul to years of solitude before embarking on his ministry. And those years of being alone with God — of allowing God to reveal to him the truth of Christ Jesus through the Scriptures and experience — were highly valuable years in his life.
Perhaps no other human being has gone through as much suffering, pain, and hardship as Paul did in his years of ministry, but God used those times to refine the apostle.
The two greatest truths Paul likely learned from his brokenness were these: his own limitations and God’s unlimited grace. Those are the most valuable truths any of us can learn.
Paul learned that he could not live the Christian life in his own strength. And God desires for each of us to come to that realization, to come to the end of ourselves, to recognize that we aren’t capable of doing the good that we want to do — of living in a way that pleases God — in our own strength, knowledge, or force of personality (see Romans 7:18-25).
If we don’t accept this truth, we will continue to rely on ourselves — our background and heritage, our education and degrees, our determination and ambition, our commitment and willpower. God breaks us in order to teach us that we cannot live an abundant life on this earth or an eternal life in heaven without his help.
God’s Unlimited Grace
Paul also learned that when he was at his very weakest, the power of God was released through him in its greatest intensity.
Paul stayed in touch with his weakness because of a thorn “in [the] flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Whatever that thorn was, it made Paul feel insufficient and weak. It acted in Paul’s life as a tool of brokenness.
He accepted it as God’s way of bringing him to the blessing of knowing that God was sufficient for him regardless of any outer circumstances.
This truth about the unlimited nature of God’s grace is very likely a lesson we only learn when we are brought to the absolute limits of our own endurance and ability to experience pain and suffering. God knows precisely how much heat we can take in His process of refining us to perfection.
The refining of precious metals — especially silver and gold — begins at low heats. Certain impurities respond quickly to heat, and they rise to the surface of the metal and are skimmed away. The heat is then increased. Other impurities rise to the top of the cauldron of molten metal and are skimmed off. Only under extremely intense heat will the most stubborn of impurities separate from the metal and rise to the top where they can be removed.
The process is the same in our lives. The breaking in our lives is by degrees. God breaks us layer by layer, bit by bit. If God moved immediately to the deepest areas of our lives, we couldn’t stand it. We’d be so overwhelmed that not only would our wills be broken, but our very spirits would be shattered.
The most deeply embedded things within us are subject to the greatest amount of brokenness. Only when these deep-seated, strongly entrenched weaknesses or flaws are removed can we truly say, “I know God’s grace is sufficient for anything.”
Paul knew the full intensity of God’s refining fire in his life. And from those experiences he gained an understanding of God’s unlimited grace.
FIVE GREAT BLESSINGS FROM BROKENNESS
At least five great blessings come from our being broken.
The Blessing of Understanding God Better
As we are broken, we understand the absolutes of God — that His commandments are exact, His promises are sure, His methods and His timetable are entirely His own, and His provision is complete.
We understand the Scriptures more fully. We see patterns of how God works in human lives. We have a deeper understanding of God’s love. We know more fully what it means to be accepted by God on the basis of nothing in ourselves, but solely because He is a loving Father. We understand more fully the purpose of the Cross. We grow in understanding God’s patience and love and kindness and forbearance. We have an experiential understanding of His long-suffering. We know with a growing certainty that He is in control of our lives completely and eternally.
The breaking process always lifts almighty God, the cross, and the grace of God to a higher level in our lives than we had placed those truths before. We are given a glimpse of God’s glory and of His divine nature. We come to a new depth of understanding of all God’s many attributes.
There is no end to what we can learn about God. This blessing is therefore an infinite one.
The Blessing of Understanding Ourselves Better
As we are broken by God, we come to a much deeper understanding of ourselves. We are able to trace the avenues, thought patterns, and trends of our lives from our childhood through our growing-up years. We can gain a new understanding of certain experiences in our past and how they affected us, for better or worse. We see our emotional flaws and discover how poorly we both show love and receive love. We face our limitations and frailties, and we see how fear has stifled us.
In our brokenness we also come to know our God-given talents, gifts, and abilities. We see ways in which the Lord has strengthened us, prepared us, and fashioned us. We also see how God has dealt with us in tenderness and mercy.
One thing we always understand very clearly in times of brokenness is that we are sinners. Brokenness always involves sin — the sin of pride and the sin of rebellion, among the other sinful behaviors God desires to remove from us. The breaking process reveals to us that we are being continually refined by God. Sin is being peeled from our lives, layer by layer.
What a wonderful blessing it is to recognize that while we still have the capacity to sin, we have been freed by Christ Jesus to denounce sin, be forgiven of it, and have victory over it!
Once we truly are broken and once we have totally submitted our lives to God, a peace floods our souls that is beyond understanding and beyond explaining (Philippians 4:7).
The Blessing of Increased Compassion for Others
Along with gaining a greater understanding of the nature of God and of ourselves through brokenness, we begin to look at other people differently. We begin to see that others are no worse and no better than we are.
We all are sinners at our core. We all are in need of God’s grace and the refining power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. We all need to change, grow, and develop in certain ways. None of us is without flaws and weaknesses.
Through brokenness, we come to the place where we can say:
- “Father, You were patient with me. I can be patient with him.”
- “Father, You showed kindness and mercy to me. I can extend kindness and mercy to her.”
- “Father, You forgave me. I can forgive this person who hurt me.”
Brokenness makes us less critical and judgmental. It also opens us up to new ways we can share God’s love with others.
The Blessing of a Greater Zest for Life
When we come to the end of ourselves, we find that we have a greater appreciation of all God’s gifts to us. Our hearts are renewed with thanksgiving and the awareness of God’s goodness to us. Our interest in life is rekindled. The hard parts of our souls break up so that we are quicker to laugh with gusto and to cry with tenderness.
The Blessing of an Increased Awareness of God’s Presence
God is with us always, but brokenness makes us more sensitive to His presence. He comforts us and assures us that He will never leave us or forsake us.
And in our brokenness, in the intimacy of our spirits, God speaks to us of His great love for us. He tells us how much He values us and desires good for us. He assures us that He is with us and is working in us.
When we feel assured of God’s presence with us, we are secure, and there’s no greater security. God reveals Himself to us as our all-sufficiency, our total provision, our ultimate protection. That releases us from fear, pressure, and worry. It produces in us an abiding peace that cannot be described and an unspeakable joy that fills our hearts to overflowing, regardless of the circumstances.
Worth the Struggle
When we yield to God’s purposes in our lives and begin to experience the blessings that come from brokenness, we can say, “I’m thankful for this trial. Praise God it’s over, but praise God that, because He loves me, He used it to refine me. I wouldn’t trade the blessing of this experience for anything in the world!”
The Purifying Work of Pain
The hallmark of several years in my life was pain. God used it to soften me, change my thinking, and expand my compassion for others who are in pain. I wouldn’t trade those changes for anything.
Some things we may not fully understand until eternity. But the perspective that God is at work keeps me from anger, bitterness, and hostility. So I have chosen that perspective.
The Condition for Blessing
God places only one condition on the blessings that He has for us through brokenness: we must be willing to submit to Him.
If we are willing to surrender ourselves to Him, He leads us to total victory in the aftermath of brokenness. It may take months or years for that victory to be realized or recognized, but victory is assured.
But if we balk in rebellion and refuse to surrender to God, we greatly curtail God’s blessing. We place a barrier of mistrust and rebellion between ourselves and His outpouring of blessings into our lives.
God Continues to Work in Us
God will not give up on us. He will continue to work in us, bringing us from one experience of brokenness to the next and blessing us along the way.
Friend, we never outgrow our need to be broken in one way or other. And praise God for that! He loves us so much that He never gives up on us, never loses interest in us, and never rejects us. He asks only that we trust Him to be our God, so that we might be His people and bring Him glory.
Excerpted with permission from Finding God’s Blessings in Brokenness by Charles Stanley, copyright Charles F. Stanley.
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Do you know that God will bless you through your brokenness? The wrong thing that is happening is not the blessing, the harm done to you is not good by itself, the pain is not all positive, but according to Romans 8:27 God can and will cause everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. Praise the Lord! Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily