Broken: 1. Having been fractured or damaged and no longer in one piece or in working order. 2. Rejected, defeated, or despairing.
“While He (Jesus) was a guest in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came in with an alabaster jar of very precious and expensive perfume. She came up to Him and broke the jar and poured the perfume on His head. Then she knelt behind Him at His feet, weeping. Her tears fell on His feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing His feet and putting perfume on them.” Mark 14:3/Matthew 26:7/Luke 11:37
This morning in church Ps Zoran Paunovich shared some new insights into this well known story of the woman who came and broke her jar of perfume over Jesus’ head. As Ps Zoran pointed out, this woman didn’t open her perfume jar and place the lid down carefully to the side and then pour just a little bit of oil on Jesus’ head. She didn’t then replace the lid of her perfume jar so that she could use the perfume again on another day. She broke the jar. Smashed it. So that it was fractured. Damaged. No longer in one piece. And she used up all of her perfume. She gave it all to Him. She poured all of it out. Until there was no more.
As Ps Zoran preached, what I heard was this: when I come to Jesus, I must allow myself to be completely broken so that whatever is inside me will pour out and run over His feet.
During our three year difficult “season” my cry was the same as the cry of Job. “My days are over, my purposes and plans are frustrated. My hopes have disappeared. Even my heart’s desires are broken.” Job 17:11)
I called out to God and told Him,(like Jeremiah did), “My grief is beyond healing; my heart is broken.” (Jeremiah 8:18)
I quoted Psalms: “…I have a broken heart and I am in despair. I am full of heaviness and I am distressingly sick. I looked for pity but there was none. If only one person would show some pity! If only one person would turn towards me. I looked for comforters but I found none.” (Psalms 69:20)
But as Ps Zoran explained – that is the reality of brokenness. I live in a broken society. A broken world. Everyone goes through seasons of brokenness. It’s called “life”.
Before I ever experienced this kind of brokenness I would have been the first to bluntly tell myself: “Build a bridge and get over it.” “Deal with it.” “Suck it up princess.” Or, “There’s no point crying over spilt milk.”
For three long years I battled through doubt, discouragement, despair and disappointment in God and His apparent lack of provision in our lives. I struggled with trust issues. I wanted to give up. You could say I was totally broken. I was fractured and damaged. I was defeated. I wasn’t in working order. Now, as I sit here on the other side of that place called “broken”, I ask “Why?” Why did we have to go through what we went through. What was that all about anyway?
There might be, as Ps Zoran said this morning, a reason for brokenness, but unfortunately He doesn’t always reveal that to us straight away.
This morning after church I chatted with my friend Sarah about this. In May 2010 her world was irrevocably broken when she woke up to find her beautiful son Kasey had died in his sleep. He was about to turn two years old. Sarah and Shane and their family were not just broken, but completely smashed. Sarah didn’t know Jesus at the time but as she met with Tim and I, she was led to the feet of Jesus and she wept and poured out her tears on His feet and wiped them away with her hair. Did she get an answer to her “Why God why”? Has God told her the reason she had to bury her baby? No. And No. Yet she still trusts Him. In the midst of her brokenness.
Like my friend Sarah (and many others who have faced situations that have caused them to feel broken and defeated) I chose to give my brokenness to God and allow Him to use me. I chose to do what my friend and preacher-chick Vicki Simpson calls “warring in the opposite spirit”. Doing something that you don’t feel like doing. This is called the remedy for brokenness. I could have chosen self pity. I could have chosen anger. I could have chosen bitterness and blamed God for everything that had gone wrong. I could have chosen to lock myself in my bedroom and pull down the blinds and turn out the lights and hide. But that’s not being broken and laying things at the feet of Jesus. That’s just withdrawing. And let me tell you honestly, I tried all these things. I was angry. I blamed God. I was full of self-pity and bitterness. I wanted to lock myself away and withdraw. But I chose not to. I chose the remedy for brokenness. I came, broken, to the feet of Jesus.
Through my season of doubt and disappointment I learned that it’s okay to be broken. It’s okay to be smashed. It’s okay to weep “ugly tears” (that’s what my friend Cindy-Lou calls them). And it’s also okay that I (still) don’t understand the reason for what I went through.
As author Oswald Chambers wrote: “When God gets us alone through suffering, heartbreak, temptation, disappointment, sickness, or by thwarted friendship – when He gets us absolutely alone, and we are totally speechless, unable to ask even one question – then He begins to teach.”