Psalm 34:18 is one of my personal favorite verses, both in my own life, but also to share with others when I am out speaking. “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit.”
I was broken bad most of my life, but especially while sitting in jail looking at spending the rest of my life in prison in 2009. I was 44 years old and had already spent 27 years in prison, lived the criminal lifestyle for 33 years and was a drug addict for over 30 years. I was about as broken as you could get. And that’s when Jesus entered my life and radically transformed me.
I love sharing this verse with addicts, those who have attempted or considered suicide, those who have been raped or abused, neglected or shamed. And the list goes on!
When we become broken we realize we need SOMEONE other than ourselves, and SOMETHING other than what we’ve went to before to repair the damage.
I always say that this is the reason I love attending biker churches, church services in addiction facilities and prisons, and churches that are full of people who have come back from hell: because they are lit up and on fire and they realize how far gone they were and what Jesus did for them and radically praise Him for that!
But those of us who have reached that brokenness realize that. But that is not who this article is for. I want to talk to those who have never been broken or don’t think you have been broken. I want to talk about brokenness before the LORD! After all, if it says: “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted…” how can He be close to you if you aren’t broken?
Brokenness in the eyes of the Lord is to be broken, crushed, and torn in spirit over sin. We see it expressed may times by David in Psalm 51. In verses 1-2 we see it in a man who cries out to the Lord for mercy, who knows that he has no hope outside of who God is!
We see it in a man who’s sin looms largely in his mind, reminding him again of his humanity and failures in verses 3-6.
We see it in a man whose greatest desire in this moment is just to be clean again, just to have his ugliness erased, just to be pure, just to be forgiven and restored to his precious friendship with the Lord and is asking the ONLY one able to accomplish it in verses 7-15.
We see it in a man who would do anything to get back to unhindered relationship with the Lord again, except that he knows he can’t do anything. It is not IN HIS power to right this wrong in verses 16-19.
We see it in a man who says this: “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a repentant heart, O God” in verse 17.
He wants spiritual brokenness, the kind of brokenness He can use. He wants godly sorrow that leads to repentance (2 Cor. 7:10).
One of the most wonderful things about sin is that it makes you so desperate that all you want is God. Deep sin can make us desperate, and out of desperation, out of grief and the hurt of a fractured heart over sin, God longs to produce humility in us. It’s a humility that allows us to recognize, as David did, who God is and who we are in comparison with Him. It’s a humility that sets us up to come to grips with our sin.
The reason brokenness is beautiful is because of how God can use it in our lives. Its something that can draw us near to Him. Brokenness can make room for a contrite heart and repentance to bring us back into fellowship with Him when we have miserably failed.
True brokenness is a tool by which God brings us wandering sheep back into His loving arms. The Lord CANNOT use us if we are NOT broken because we are so full of ourselves and don’t understand our deep need for Him.
So Lord, break me!!