Religion & Spirituality:Christianity
Last week we discovered that brokenness is a part of life, it today I want to take the time to ask the question of God… tell me what you want, what you really, really want?
When difficulties come into our lives, most people ask the question, “Where are you, God?” In asking this question, we make an assumption that God either must not have known what was about to befall us or else he would have prevented it. Or we assume that God must not love us, because if he loved us, he would keep us from all hurtful times and hard experiences.
Both assumptions are wrong.
The fact is, God knows. And God loves. So what’s going on then, and what is the Lord after?
To look closer at this, consider Job. Job was a good and godly man, yet he was on the end of a bad deal. When pain, turmoil or disaster comes our way, many ask the question, “Who caused this, God or Satan?” What we see in the book of Job is that Satan causes the pain, but God, in His infinite wisdom, at times allows bad things to happen to good people.
Job 1:8 (ESV Strong's)
And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”
God rejoiced in Job’s faithfulness, but then Satan stepped forward and accused Job, saying he is only righteous because he gets what he wants.
So God gave Satan permission to touch Job’s possessions, but not his body. Satan attacked, and Job’s sons and daughters, flocks, herds and servants were killed. Did God kill them? No, but He gave liberty for Satan to do it.
Job 1:21 (ESV Strong's)
And he said, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Despite the pain and loss, Job refused to blame God. So Satan was given permission to attack Job’s body. How many of you know that brokenness often leads to sickness. Also, those he loved turned on him. His friends tormented and accused him instead of encouraging him, and his wife said,
Job 2:9 (ESV Strong's)
Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.”
God knew that Job was broken. While we may not understand why God allowed it, we do know that God never abandoned Job, not even for a moment. God knew of Job’s afflictions, but He also knew how these would serve to refine and deepen Job’s trust in the Lord.
The thing is, no matter how broken we might feel, God sees the beginning and the end of our lives. He has a good future designed for us. He has a hope that can drive us on in the toughest of times. We may not know what our future holds, but we know who holds our future, and we can trust Him.
In all this, Job learned not to question God, but to yield to His sovereign will. Job never accused God, and he never dictated terms, he submitted to God, and as he yielded to God, God saw fit to restore his fortunes, twice as much as he had before.
We need to recognise that God does not allow brokenness in our lives because he is ruthless, cruel, heartless, or without compassion. No! To the contrary. God sees the beginning and the end, He sees the full potential for our lives, and He deeply desires an intimate, loving spiritual relationship with us. Paul writes,
Romans 8:38-39 (ESV Strong's)
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God loves you so much, He cannot bear to see you continue in your sin, to see you remain in a lukewarm spiritual state, and He will not stand idly by and watch as His plans and hopes and dreams for you go unfulfilled. God is not about meeting your demands, He’s about meeting your destiny!
He wants to bring about His best for us, and for us to experience Him in the fullness of His love, wisdom, power, strength, and goodness. He allows brokenness in our lives in order to bring about this blessing… a closer, deeper, more mature walk with Him.
Brokenness is often confused with punishment, but the Lord’ discipline is not the same as the Lord’s punishment.
Punishment is for unbelievers. It is an expression of God’s wrath, and is what someone who rejects Jesus faces. Eternally there will be punishment in hell, and many experience some of that even here on earth. Punishment is not designed to rehabilitate, it’s designed to be the just and fair consequences of our sinful actions.
Ephesians 5:6 (ESV Strong's)
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
Discipline, on the other hand, is for believers, it’s for you and I, and God’s purpose is to lead a believer to confront, remove, or change any habits, attitudes, or beliefs that keep the believer from growing more like Jesus. Discipline is a training tool that God uses to make us whole and spiritually mature. It is God’s method for preparing us for a supernatural, Holy Spirit inspired ministry of service.
Hebrews 12:11 (ESV Strong's)
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Punishment flows from God’s wrath, but discipline flows from God’s love for you.
God loves you, and has a plan and a purpose of your life. Yes. He will allow brokenness in your life, but His motivation is love.
Hebrews 12:5-6 (ESV Strong's)
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
God’s purpose is not to break our spirit, but to break the stubbornness of our wills. Have you ever met a child who has never been disciplined? Undisciplined children grow into egotistical, self centred, self serving, narcissistic adults. Loving parents discipline their children. Why? Because they love them and want them to grow up into kind, beautiful people who bless others. Some people cause happiness wherever they go, while others cause happiness whenever they go.
And so God, our perfect Father, allows pain and difficulties and even brokenness into our lives not because He delights in our pain, but because He is shaping us into the destiny He has planned for us. These painful circumstances and situations are tools that God uses to bring us to a position where we are willing to surrender and yield our lives completely to him.
So can Christians see themselves as victims? The whole modern world see themselves as victims. Nothing is ever their fault. Even criminals blame their past, their upbringing, peers, substances or anything else except their own poor choices! All of these may be true, but in the end, each one chooses.
Deuteronomy 30:19 (ESV Strong's)
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live,
If you are going through brokenness today, you can choose how you see yourself. When you see ourselves as a victim, you live in the past and wallow in your pain. But if you choose to see yourself as dearly loved by a God who is preparing you for a special future and service, which He alone knows, then you will find strength to endure the past pain and move forward.
Victims blame circumstances, but victors rise above circumstances. The choice is yours.
Romans 8:28 (ESV Strong's)
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
All things, even the bad, even the painful, even the things that leave you broken, God can bring about good in your life through these things, and all it takes is for you to choose to trust Him.
I was once ripped off for a large sum of money by someone I trusted. I remember the night this all happened, how I sat in a room thinking I was going to lose my home, and I was completely broken. I remember feeling numb, like I had no emotion, almost like I had no soul.
But then I realised that I had a choice. I could choose to be the victim, and I was being victimised by someone I loved, or I could choose to be the victor.
This brokenness could have affected me for the rest of my life. I could have got mad at God, I could have got mad at myself. But I chose at that moment to trust the Lord. To step up and be the person He wants me to be. To be a victor!
Today, if any experience in your past is defining you—other than your salvation experience—then you have serious work to do. If you are still finding your past is controlling you, then you very likely are allowing yourself to be victimised, rather than allowing yourself to be redeemed and healed by the love of God. As long as we see ourselves as victims, we cannot embrace the wholeness God has for us, but today we can choose to become victors!
They say hindsight is 20/20 vision. In other words, looking back I can see what God was doing. At the time, however, and at the moment of brokenness, you cannot see from God’s perspective, because the pain blinds you to what He was doing.
In the heat of the moment, it’s so hard to see what the Lord is doing. If He is a God of love, why does He allow me to hurt so much? When it’s over, however, we can begin to see the truth, the perspective that God has had all along. If you’re broken right now, it you’re hurting, if you’re in pain and there seems to be no hope for you, then God is not standing afar, He is right there, and He’s hurting too!
Psalms 34:18 (ESV Strong's)
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
The word “crushed” in the Hebrew means destroyed, or ground into powder. And some of you here feel exactly like that… crushed into powder, not just beaten down or hurt, but utterly pulverised into fine powder. But the Bible says,
Psalm 147:3 (ESV)
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Isaiah 57:15 (ESV)
For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.
Do you need reviving this morning?
When I look back in my life, I can see clearly how God has changed me. At times I’ve been broken, shattered, beaten, smashed, pruned, and chiseled, and frankly I didn’t like the feeling of brokenness any more than you do. But I can tell you this—I thank God for what he’s done. Every chisel blow, every hammer blow, every cut of the knife, every slice into my innermost being, every tear, every pain, every hurt, every loss, every disappointment, every disillusionment, every moment of despair has been worth it, because I trust my Lord, and I know God has refined me, and out of the crushed and broken spirit He is building something great for His Kingdom!
We call our church Ignite, because we recognise our need of the purifying flame that God uses to refine our lives.
Proverbs 17:3 (ESV Strong's)
The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.
Isaiah 48:10 (ESV Strong's)
Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.
The process of refining silver is an ancient art. The brokenness you feel is the result of affliction, but it’s this very flame of affliction that God uses to purify or refine your life.
The refiner’s fire is not a wildfire, or an incinerator, it is a specific flame at a specific temperature and it burns for a specific purpose. The silver must be held in the middle of the fire, because that’s where it is hottest. It is heated and liquifies, and then impurities, what is called dross, floats to the surface, and are scraped away.
This process is repeated again and again, up to 7 times, and each time the silver is heated hotter and hotter, and each time dross is removed.
The silversmith watches closely, because he knows that if the silver is left in the flame for even a moment too long it can be destroyed. The flame is carefully set, carefully controlled, and the master silversmith carefully watches and waits.
And if you ask the silversmith how he knows when the silver is fully refined, when it is truly pure enough he would smile and tell you…
“It is fully refined when I can see my image reflected in the silver.”
Psalms 17:15 (ESV Strong's)
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.
This brokenness, this trial, this test you are experiencing is to purify you so that Jesus is reflected in your life. If the furnace seems hot right now, remember that God is not punishing you, but allowing affliction so as to lovingly refine and purify you. The purpose of all this, the reason He is working all things for good, is so that He can see His image reflected in you.
Ephesians 4:22-24 (ESV Strong's)
to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
If you’re going through a furnace right now! In your marriage, in your finances, in your relationships, in your walk with God, then let us share the journey with you.
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