Do you like being wrong? Do you enjoy knowing you made a mistake? Do you live for disappointing someone you love and cherish? Most of us would answer all three questions with a simple, “No.” Spiritual brokenness means coming to the realization that we’ve done all three. It’s heart rending. We don’t just come to an intellectual understanding that we’ve sinned. We actually hurt over it. Maybe we don’t ache physically, though that’s possible, but we do feel pain emotionally and mentally. We are more than just uncomfortable. We want to reverse the situation, to no longer feel the trauma that is affecting us.
So why do I say brokenness is necessary? Brokenness is a starting step for true repentance. Without brokenness, there is no turning away from sin. There is no chance at revival. There is no ability to restore our estranged relationship with Jesus.
When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes. – 2 Kings 22:11, ESV
The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. – Jonah 3:6, ESV
Two separate examples from Scripture show us how people react when they are confronted and understand the depth of their sin. In the first case, Josiah heard the Law read after it was rediscovered in the Temple. Upon hearing the truth and realizing just how sinful he and the rest of the kingdom was, he reacted in sorrow and anguish. In the second case, the king of Assyria heard the message from God preached by Jonah. The king realized just how wicked he and the rest of his kingdom was (see a theme?), and he threw off his royal robes, covered himself in harsh sackcloth, and sat down in ashes – a symbol of pain and suffering.
Then, out of both of these suffering situations came repentance. And then came forgiveness. In Josiah’s case, the kingdom experienced revival. In the Assyrians’ case, that kingdom experienced revival. Those who did not know God came to worship Him and love Him. Those who did know Him found themselves back in fellowship with the King of kings. Relationships were established and/or restored. God moved among His people, whether Jew or Gentile. It all started with their brokenness.
If you’re praying for revival, pray also for brokenness. Pray that brokenness starts within the Church, with the saints. Pray that God reveals to us the depth of our sin, and allows us a glimpse of how He views that sin. While brokenness may be painful, it is necessary. We must undergo it if we are ever to see revival. We must endure that well-deserved suffering if we want to see God move in a mghty way again.