Summary: If we want to be truly blessed and be a blessing to others, we must let God break us of our self-sufficiency and our sin.
Recently, I came across an interesting set of statistics on sanity. According to the study, one out of every four Americans is suffering from some sort of mental illness. Now, think of your three best friends. If they’re okay, then it’s probably you. (Rita Mae Brown, Church Champions Update, 11-26-01; www.PreachingToday.com)
Truth be told, ALL of us are broken in some way. It’s just that only a few of us are willing to admit it. Many of us wear masks that hide our brokenness, hoping nobody else will notice. We pay attention to outward appearances, hoping nobody really sees what’s on the inside, but that only keeps us from experiencing true happiness and joy.
There is real blessing in brokenness, if we can just admit we’re broken. You say, “Phil, what possible blessing can come from my brokenness? What can be the good that comes from acknowledging the hurt, the pain, and the darkness in my own soul?
Genesis 32:22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. (NIV)
Jacob is about to enter the land God promised him and his descendants. It is the land of blessing.
Genesis 32:23-24 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. (NIV)
In the original Hebrew, there is a play on words going on here that is quite significant. You see, before ya’aqob (Jacob) could cross the yaboq (Jabbok) into the land of blessing, he had to ye’abeq (wrestle) with somebody. There was no blessing without some agony and tears.
Genesis 32:25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. (NIV)
Up until now, Jacob has been a good fighter. He fought with his brother, Esau, winning a birthright and a blessing. He fought with his uncle, Laban, winning a great amount of wealth. Now he fights a “man” he cannot defeat, a “man” who cripples him in the strongest part of his body.
An old doctor once said, “The hip muscle is the strongest muscle in the human body, a muscle that a horse could scarcely tear apart.” Yet this “man” with one touch pulled Jacob’s hip out of joint, and Jacob is now forever broken in the area of his greatest strength.
By now, we know that this is no ordinary “man.” This is a Supernatural Being, much stronger than Jacob. In fact, this is God Himself, who breaks Jacob down in the area of his self-confidence and his self-sufficiency.
You see, there is no blessing without such a breaking, and if we want that blessing, we must…
LET GOD BREAK US OF OUR SELF-SUFFICIENCY.
We must let God break us of our self-confidence. We must let God break us in those areas where we think we’re the strongest before He can make us truly strong in Him.
Chuck Swindoll once said, “When God wants to use a man greatly, He must first hurt him deeply.” Let me say it again, “When God wants to use a man greatly, He must first hurt him deeply.”
When I first heard that as a student in seminary preparing for ministry, I have to admit I didn’t like it at all. I didn’t want to be hurt. I didn’t want to be broken before God could use me in any significant way. But since then, I have discovered that it is very true. Oh the times of brokenness and hurt Sandy and I have experienced over more than 25 years in ministry. But those times of brokenness have always been followed by times of rich blessing in ministry.
And that has been true of all of God’s servants throughout history. Before God used Moses to deliver His people out of Egypt, God had to put him on the back side of the desert taking care of sheep for 40 years. Before God used Isaiah, one of Israel’s greatest prophets, He had to bring Isaiah to the point where he cried out, “Woe is me!” in Isaiah 6. Before God used the great Apostle Paul in the New Testament, he had to give him a “thorn in the flesh” to keep him from becoming conceited (1 Corinthians 12:7). In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul says, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore,” Paul says, “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (1 Corinthians 12:8-9). Even Christ’s body had to be broken on the cross before the blessing of His salvation could come to a broken world.