Most people tend to despise broken things, often wanting to throw them away. When you hear the word broken it implies something is wrong. Something is not working the way it’s supposed to be. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, broken can have a few definitions such as “violently separated into parts; shattered” or “subdued completely; crushed, sorrowful.”
We not only like to throw broken things away, we sometimes like throwing broken people away. On the contrary, God seems to love and is actually drawn to broken people. What is it about brokenness that attracts Gods attention? Why does God love using broken people? Let’s consider three reasons.
1. Broken People Recognize Their Need of God
In the gospel of Luke chapter 18, we see the parable of the pharisee and the tax collector. They both went to the temple to pray, however their prayers were vastly different. Here is how the Pharisee prayed:
“The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get’” (Luke 18:11-12).
Compare that to the prayer of the tax collector:
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner’” (Luke 18:13).
Hopefully it is evident to you the difference in their prayers. The Pharisee stood confident, boasting in his righteousness, telling God how wonderful a person he is. The tax collector on the other hand was bent low and broken, recognizing how unworthy he is, pleading for the mercy of God.
Guess which one went home justified?
There is an old expression out there that says God helps those who help themselves. That is not true, and it is also not in the Bible. What the Bible teaches us is that God helps those who realize they can’t help themselves and who recognize their need for him. This is what Jesus reminds us of in this parable. The broken person recognizes that they need God. When they understand their need, they call upon him. When they call upon him, he comes to help. People who don’t recognize their brokenness never understand their need for God and refuse to call upon him for help.
Here is what Psalm 34:18 says – “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
If your heart is broken today and you are in a place where you recognize your need for God, you are exactly where God wants you to be. He is close to you ready to step in and help you in your situation. All you have to do is call upon him.
2. Broken People Help Other Broken People
The word empathy means to be able to understand and share the feelings of others. At some point in our lives, we have all been hurt, broken, troubled, crushed, bruised and in need of help and the comfort of God. This is the essence of being broken. Because we understand what it looks like and feels like, we can in turn help someone else. In other words, broken people help other broken people.
I believe the experiences you face in life are not just for you. They happen so you in turn can help someone else. How can you help me overcome if you never had to do the same? This is what Jesus did for us. Hebrews reminds us that we have a high priest who has experienced everything we do, so he can help us. He became broken so he could help us in our brokenness. Therefore, we can approach the throne of grace with confidence knowing we have a God who understands and empathizes with our brokenness. Because God demonstrated this model for us through Christ, we in turn must do the same for others. Notice what Paul says in 2 Corinthians:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
If you have been broken before, then God wants to use that. Remember what it felt like and remember how God brought you through it. Take that and go help someone else who needs you because broken people help other broken people.
3. Broken People Become Trophies of God’s Grace
One of the biggest enemies to the early church was Saul of Tarsus. In Acts 8 after Stephen was stoned, we see that Saul was there and approved of Stephen’s killing. Right after that, great persecution broke out and Acts 8:3 says, “But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.” When we get to chapter 9 of Acts, Saul is still spewing out his murderous venom.
“Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem” (Acts 9:1-2).
Saul felt justified in his righteousness and zealousness as a Pharisee, yet with all of his knowledge and training he missed the fact that Jesus was the Messiah. On his way to Damascus, God showed up, encountered Saul, and changed him forever. Saul went from ruthless antagonist to champion of the gospel. He went from Saul of Tarsus to the Apostle Paul. He went from being broken, to becoming a trophy of God’s grace. Here is Paul in his own words:
“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:12-16).
The beauty of Paul’s story is God took the worst of sinners and made him a chief example of God’s grace. So it is with you. I encourage you to embrace your brokenness. It will draw you closer to God. It will allow you to help someone else and it will allow God to put you on display as a trophy of his grace. Either way if you are broken you are just the one that God is looking for.
Photo credit: Pexels/Ismael Sanchez
Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, author and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He has spent more than 30 years serving the body of Christ in various capacities and has just released his first book, The Pursuit of Purpose. If you have ever struggled trying to find God’s will, this book will help you discover the different ways God leads you into his perfect will. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.