You can tell by the ridiculous traffic on I-65 each weekend that it’s Spring Break time. I know for local students, the week ahead is the one you have been looking forward to, but for those “up north” who make their trek down south to our beaches and clog up our roads, it seems that spring breaks go on for more than a month.
I have watched many people on social media counting down the days till spring break arrives here. I can’t say that I blame them. All of us need a break every now and then, even if takes a bad back to get us to take one. But that’s another story.
Of course, there’s another side of getting a break. That is, getting broken.
It seems that no one ever wants to be broken, though it’s a common theme biblically, and a wonderful virtue that we even sing about in many of our contemporary worship songs. But most often it’s something we’d rather sing about than experience first-hand.
Interestingly, the word “broken” occurs 28 times in the book of Jeremiah, and three more time in the book of Lamentations (which Jeremiah authored). The weeping prophet, as Jeremiah was called, was a man whose heart was broken by the sins of his people and the tragedies of his times. It’s not hard to feel his sadness sometimes when he writes things like: “Why did I come forth from the womb to see labor and sorrow?” (Jer. 20:18).
Would Jeremiah have avoided the brokenness he experienced had he been given the option? I think he probably would have. Most of us would do likewise. But I’m not sure we should miss the opportunities of the “breaks” that come in our lives, that lead us into brokenness. Even if they are painful.
Just think of how greatly God used Jeremiah despite–or even, because of–his broken heart. He drew people to God in his own day, he prophesied the return of Israel from exile in future days, and his book has been ministering to the world for more than twenty-six centuries.
So too, God used difficult times in the lives of so many of the great leaders in the Bible. It was through their brokenness that He was honored most.
I was reading a familiar passage this week in my devotional time, in the first chapter of his second letter to the church at Corinth. There the apostle Paul used an interesting play on words to write about God’s comfort for us. He said that the God of all comfort is able to comfort others with the comfort with which He comforts us in broken times (2 Cor. 1:3-7). In other words, He comforts us, when life gets uncomfortable.
We can’t always avoid broken hearts, broken relationships and even broken promises. The truth is, for whatever reason in His providence, God doesn’t want us to avoid those things. He wants instead to use them to “break” us of our tendency toward self-sufficiency and increase our faith and dependence on Him. Even if it’s hard. And most often, it is.
When our brokenness is laid at the feet of Jesus, He can use our shattered circumstances to draw others to Himself, and we can rejoice in spite of our pain. After all, Jesus was broken and spilled out for us.
My prayer for each of us this spring break is that God would continue to break us, to mold us, and to teach us to trust Him as our full sufficiency. He is enough.
May He bless you richly, even in difficult times. I’m praying for you, as I hope you are for me, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.