Embrace your brokenness?

Have you heard someone use the phrase “embrace your brokenness?” I was not familiar with it until an acquaintance mentioned it recently. The individual mentioned that a pastor had taught him to embrace his brokenness as a means of learning and changing. This mention of the phrase caught my attention and led me to ask others where the Bible teaches this. The few people who responded to my question did not have an answer that satisfied my curiosity. What follows is the result of my studies on the subject.

What people have said about this

The people listed below are used as examples simply because their comments were readily available on the internet. I do not know much about any of them. So, take these quotations as individual samples of their teaching.

Alan Nelson

“He loves me, He loves me not. When you encounter a painful event in your life-divorce, death of a family member, financial setback-you might wonder if God really loves you: ‘If He cares so much about me, why does He put me through times of suffering and brokenness?’ Actually God doesn’t use tough times to punish you – He uses them to help you reach a level of spiritual maturity that cannot otherwise be reached. What feels uncomfortable now only makes you stronger and more beautiful down the road. In fact, God uses the breaking process out of love, hoping you’ll respond to it in a way that brings you closer to Him. In Embracing Brokenness, Pastor Alan Nelson offers an encouraging look at the hopeful side of brokenness. Understanding the process of brokenness won’t necessarily stop the hurting, but it will make the pain much more bearable. And you won’t have to play the game of ‘He loves me, He loves me not,’ because you’ll clearly know the depth of God’s love for you.”

Summary: This author believes that God takes you through personal tragedies to make you a better person. Embracing what God is doing in your life makes you able to handle hard times easier.

Question: Would you tell Job to embrace his brokenness (the bad things he had gone through?

Opinion: It seems that it would be better to say, Embrace God’s perfecting work in your life (Rom. 8:28). We are not told to embrace the bad things that happen to us, but to trust God through them.

Joni Eareckson Tada

“Every day I lean heavily on a cross-shaped crutch because I am weak; I am needy, and I’m so broken. And there are so many things about me that require fixing. And I am not ashamed to admit it, because that is my access to the power of God. God never pours out His power on the proud and resourceful. No, rather, He only gives grace at our points of brokenness. So, if there is something the matter with your life that needs changing, identify what is wrong, name it, and own it. Recognize that it has, in the past, defined you. Be like a recovering alcoholic. Admit your weakness and boast in your need of a Savior.”

Summary: This author sees brokenness as personal faults. She believes that when you admit your sins and turn to Christ for help, you are embracing your brokenness.

Question: Does repentance include an embrace of sins?

Opinion: Perhaps a better way to say it is, Admit your brokenness. Embrace your sinfulness makes it seem like you are loving what your should hate.

Seth Barnes

“One of the great struggles we all face is to come to the place where we can recognize our brokenness and be OK with it. … Yet it’s so hard to embrace your own brokenness. To admit it and even talk openly about it. … The truth is, we’re all broken and we need to embrace our brokenness instead of locking it away.”

Summary: This author says embracing your brokenness is admitting your sin instead of hiding it from others. He cites one of his heroes who finally admitted to lying about his addiction to alcohol. Once he admitted it, he felt free.

Question: Should you embrace your sinfulness?

Opinion: This gives the idea that you should embrace the fact that you are a sinner. Recognizing your sinfulness and dealing with it are good things, but should not include a loving embrace.

Cody Mitchell

“During these six months, I learned a very valuable lesson. I learned that I was beautiful even though I considered myself internally broken. I even began a morning mantra as I stepped out of my car. I would tell myself ‘you are beautiful, life is beautiful, and embrace everything who you are in this moment, even the broken aspects.’ … The only way to begin this process is to simply embrace who you are in this present moment. From there give thanks to anything that has ever happened in your life that has made you feel broken. … So in conclusion, embrace your brokenness because without it you could not be this beautiful person now.”

Summary: This author does not claim to be a Christian. He says that yoga has helped him to handle the difficult things in his life including having to live out of his car for six months. His view of the phrase has nothing to do with God.

Question: Are Christians borrowing catchy phrases from the world?

Opinion: While some people struggle with their self-worth after experiencing abuse, a broken family, or bad situations, the answer is not repeating catchy phrases. The answer is viewing yourself through the lens of what God thinks about you in the Bible.

What the Bible says about brokenness

Here is where we find the real help that we need. What others have said may be inspirational, but it is of little help if it is not grounded in the Scriptures. So, what does the Bible say about it?

Many believers have experienced a broken spirit.

1. The Experience of Job

   a. Why was he broken?

Job 17:1 – “My spirit is broken, my days are extinguished, the grave is ready for me.”

Job was broken by terrible events in his life. He lost all of his children, his wealth, and then his health. During that time, he said things that he should not have. But then the Lord confronted him.

   b. How did he respond to his brokenness?

Job 42:1-6 – “Then Job answered the Lord and said: “I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’ “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
Job recognized who he was in God’s sight and repented of his wrong thinking about God during his trials. From that day on, he recognized his need to submit to whatever God brought into his life.

2. The Experience of David

   a. Why was he broken?

Psalm 31:10-12 – “For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away. I am a reproach among all my enemies, but especially among my neighbors, and am repulsive to my acquaintances; those who see me outside flee from me. I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind; I am like a broken vessel.” 
Psalm 38:4, 8 – “For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me. … I am feeble and severely broken; I groan because of the turmoil of my heart.”

He was broken by his sin and its results.

   b. How did he respond to his brokenness?

Psalm 69:5, 20 – “O God, You know my foolishness; and my sins are not hidden from You. … Reproach has broken my heart, and I am full of heaviness; I looked for someone to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.”

Note what David did in each of these psalms. He confessed his sins to God and then asked for help with his broken situation.

3. The Experience of Jeremiah

   a. Why was he broken?

Jeremiah 23:9-10 – “My heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake. I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine has overcome, because of the Lord, and because of His holy words. For the land is full of adulterers; for because of a curse the land mourns. The pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up. Their course of life is evil, and their might is not right.”

He was broken-hearted because of the sinfulness of others and the results of their sin.

   b. How did he respond to his brokenness?

Jeremiah mourned because of the sins of others and the results of their sin. He warned sinners of the result of their sin by writing his prophetic letters.

Many believers have become broken about their sin.

1. Why were they broken?

Psalm 34:18 – “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.” 

Psalm 51:17 – “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart — These, O God, You will not despise.” 

Matthew 21:44 – “And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.”

They submitted to God’s view of their sin and repented of it.

2. What was the result?

God saves this person from his sins (34:18), accepts this person (51:17), and changes them to a proper relationship with God (Mt. 21:44). Look further in the Scriptures and you will find that God desires to heal the broken-hearted.

Psalm 147:3 – “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” 

Isaiah 61:1 – “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.”

With these verses in mind, we must turn from (note embrace) our broken situations to God for our hearts to be healed. This healing is found only in Him.

Conclusion

We began by talking about the phrase “embrace your brokenness.” After looking at the Scriptures, I think this is not a good way to look at our lives or to handle tragedy or sinfulness. Instead of embracing what we once were or what we are currently experiencing, we need to look to Jesus for the help we need: (1) forgiveness and salvation through Christ, (2) continued help and forgiveness through Jesus, and (3) hope for the future when we will be free from sin and its effects. Don’t embrace your brokenness. Embrace the One who delivered and will deliver you from your brokenness and daily gives you what you need.
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Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.