** The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart: and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all. ** Psalm 34:18,19
The subject of brokenness is something that deserves several days of study. Watchman Nee wrote a great book on it called “The Breaking of the Outer Man and the Release of the Spirit.” The core of his book tells us that the trials we face as Christians are to break away the hardness of our hearts to allow liberty for the Spirit of Christ to flow through us.
He explains that trials are not for our punishment. They are to make us more fruitful, to allow the LORD to have preeminence, and so that others will see Christ in us.
If we face disease or loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, financial ruin, a crumbled ministry or have wayward children…all of those are to bring us closer to Christ. Because our broken hearts invite Him to step in closer to comfort us and encourage us and to carry us through the heartache.
The thing is that many times in the beginning of a trial, our first reaction is not always Christlike. It may be panic, overwhelming fear, many tears, anger, a feeling of hopelessness or powerlessness, sleeplessness and for some, desperation. But over time, if we are listening to God, we settle into the trial and allow God to do His work in us.
We can ask ourselves if others see Christ in us today? or if they saw Christ in us during our last trial? Did they see His peace, His unconditional love, His wisdom, His grace? Or did they see us? Maybe the worse side of us.
If they didn’t see the best of Christ in us, there is no need to worry. Our verses for today tell us that MANY are the afflictions of the righteous. There is always another trial around the corner! Happy thought, right?
One last word. God is HOLY. Completely holy. He has no sin, no darkness in Him. He is perfect and True. Inside and out.
When we are in any affliction, God is near us. He is closer, more palpable, more evident in our day to day. That means that his holiness is more evident. His presence is more recognizable. His grace is carrying us through the trial. I believe that is what brings out our ugly side in a trial. The closer we get to His holiness the easier it is for us to see and others to see our non-holy side. Because the two cannot co-exist. God’s holiness and our sin. He brings the trials so we can see which parts of us are not reflecting His Holiness.
That is one of the reasons He sends us trials. To dig out the parts that do not reflect Him. When He is that close, it is impossible for us to not see how we fall short of being like Him. It brings some of our worse traits to the surface so He can deal with them. So we can deal with them.
It can surprise us to see how much darkness still lives in us. But that is what the Light of His Word is for. To replace our darkness for His Light. When we face the next trial, we can ask the Lord for something from His Word to cling to. Something that will give us hope. Something to keep our faith in place. Something to comfort. Something that makes His Word more real to us. Whatever our need is, His Word has the answer for it.
Whatever is broken, God can fix it. Whatever humbles us, God can lift us up again. And when the trial is over, may we be more like Him.