In last week’s blog, we discovered what the Bible says about people’s inherent goodness. Following on from there, I thought it could be helpful to address another fallacy I frequently hear from preachers: “you are broken, and only God can fix you. But you’ll probably still be broken until you get to heaven.” Is that true? Let’s explore the possibilities.
The word “broken” is found 133 times in the Bible. In Scripture, brokenness refers to commands and covenants, babies being born, sacrifices, clay pots, and sinners that perish. Things that are broken include:
- Pagan altars and weapons.
- Idols and city walls.
- Yokes and bread.
- Cities and nations.
Not once does the Bible infer that people are fundamentally broken.
What About The Fall?
We Christians get the redemption story skewed when we start reading the Bible from Genesis chapter 3 and what is commonly called “The fall of man.”
But the Bible doesn’t begin with sin. It starts with a creation that God calls very good. Humans are made in God’s Image and are inherently good and not broken. Yes, we are all flawed and sometimes the imperfect world we live in causes “a state of strong emotional pain that stops someone from living a normal or healthy life.” But that is not every person’s experience all the time.
What About Job?
I am not suggesting that some people may not feel broken. In almost four decades of pastoral ministry, I have spoken to many people who have told me they are worn out by what life has dished up to them. I have had the privilege to journey and pray with these people as they seek God’s healing presence. I have watched God do wonders as he has rejuvenated these precious people.
Job is a classic example of brokenness. And no wonder after losing his children, livelihood, and health. Who wouldn’t feel completely devastated? “My spirit is broken, my days are cut short, the grave awaits me,” utters this shattered man.
The Broken Hearted
Many have experienced unfair treatment and its resulting pain and anguish. The Scriptures are full of comfort and reassurance to such people. Consider David’s song (Psalm 31), composed when his enemies conspired against him to take his life: “I am forgotten as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery.”
David’s ancient words nourish suffering souls: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” The Bible has much to say to those whose hearts are broken. God “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus quoted Isaiah as a foretaste of his mission: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”
A Broken Spirit
Maybe you’re thinking of David’s words when the prophet Nathan came to him after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba. Psalm 51 is David’s penitent prayer as he seeks God’s mercy and unfailing love. “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”
There is no doubt that David was broken by his adultery and the subsequent death of his son. I am so grateful that he wrote a song about his experiences and that the Holy Spirit has preserved it for successive generations. I have read this song numerous times as I have processed my failures and offences. David’s words are full of raw emotion and genuine remorse. His foolishness crushed his spirit, and he viewed God as the only one who could restore him. But this did not mean that David was forever broken any more than we are.
If you find yourself brokenhearted by the stuff life has served up to you or by your poor choices, I hope you will find consolation and reassurance in these words. The Father’s arms are open wide, ready to forgive and restore. I also hope you are encouraged by the realisation that you are not innately broken. You are created in God’s image. You are awesomely and wonderfully made.