Understanding Suffering A Study in the Purpose of Brokenness Part II

Rob Franzen

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Rob FranzenRob FranzenMy brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:2-4 NKJV).

The word “broken” today basically brings negative thoughts or images: broken equipment, broken bones, broken hearts, etc. Many today in our churches are unaware that the Word of God speaks a lot about the subject of brokenness: biblical brokenness. What is biblical brokenness? The Bible speaks of a brokenness that is not only positive but absolutely essential. Jesus reveals a symbolic spiritual pattern in communion when the Bible says; “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it” (Matt. 26:26).

The profound spiritual pattern here is Jesus first “blessed you,” in that He saved you, then He “breaks you,” in order to “give you” or ultimately present you faultless to the Father. What does this “breaking” mean? It means God only works through broken vessels; the more broken, the more God can flow through that vessel. It means that God cares enough about you to do what is necessary that you may reflect His character and ultimately prepare you for His un-veiled Glory. God works through people whose heart, will and pride have been broken. Just saying this turns people off, but God never leaves us broken. Our heart, will and pride are broken so that we are transformed to reflect Him in our total person. The message of biblical brokenness is the process and methods God uses to break us so that He can put us back together in a better and more righteous way.  Brokenness is metaphoric language used to describe our condition when we are crushed of a broken heart from painful experiences. The message of biblical brokenness involves fiery trails, pain, suffering, hardships, even discipline (Heb. 12:11). This is why we don’t hear about it from our pulpits. Nobody wants to hear about suffering. People don’t usually shout “amen” and give big offerings when hearing about how we must persevere through sufferings. We associate suffering with negatives, yet God’s intentions are in no way negative. Our own immaturity prevents us from understanding how good and essential biblical brokenness really is.

To help us better understand biblical brokenness, we will briefly discuss four main reasons behind suffering and trouble. They are:  1) our sin-fallen environment around us; 2) The consequences of our own sin; 3) The devil; 4) God and His Sovereignty. In discussing these we will then identify what biblical brokenness is not.  We have to be mature enough to discern which one of these is the cause of our sufferings. The Sovereignty of God can and does use all of these to bring about His desired, higher purposes. However, identifying which cause that is behind our trials and sufferings is key to which discipline we use to navigate our way out successfully.

Our sin-fallen environment is seen in cases like Luke 13:4 “Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them …” No one person’s sin directly caused this to happen (except maybe Adam’s if you are one who has to place blame). Bad things happen to good people all the time due to the fact that we live in world groaning in anguish from the effects of sin, and waiting for the Restoration (Romans 8:20-22). It rains upon the just and the unjust alike (Matt. 5:45). The bottom line of the 2nd law of thermodynamics in nut-shell is that everything is wearing down, thus, causing problems. Earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, volcanos, floods, natural disasters of all sorts are due to the effects of sin on a once perfect creation. When God created, there were no flaws; the flaws came later when sin entered the natural world at the fall of Adam. Eventually, the once perfect earth experienced judgment on sin, causing a world-wide flood, which caused the breakage of the tectonic plates, volcanos, violent weather patterns, etc. A proper understanding of the first several chapters of Genesis explains the very reason why we suffer from a sin-fallen environment. The Bible starts with God, who is perfection and works out from there. According to the book of Genesis and Ezek. 28:13, Rom. 5:14; 1Cor. 15:21-22, 26 and others there was no sin, no death, no sickness or even a devil before God brought forth a perfect world from His perfect self. Starting with perfection is essential to biblical interpretation. We are also affected by senseless acts of violence, vandalism, theft, murder, terrorism etc. all due to culture being eaten up by the degeneration of sin. Sin is the underlying problem & Jesus Christ our Creator-Redeemer is the ONLY possible remedy for sin!

The second reason we experience sufferings and troubles of all sorts is due to God’s law of sowing and reaping; scientifically called the law of cause and effect and also in quantum mechanics. Galatians 6:7 – Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  Hosea 8:6-7 – A workman made it, and it is not God; … “They sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind.” In other words, we suffer consequences from our own sin and bad decisions.

The third reason for suffering and troubles in our lives is from Satan and his angels (demon spirits). How to identify an attack from the devil is by knowing John 10:10 – “The thief comes only to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. When sufferings and troubles are clearly designed to steal, kill or destroy us, know that it is the forces of darkness behind this kind of attack. 2Cor. 2:11, admonishes us not to be ignorant of the devils devices or schemes. Philippians 2:5 says “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” 1Peter 4:1 says “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind …” Why would we have to arm ourselves with the same mind and focus of Christ? Because we too will journey through sufferings as our Lord did. Jesus wasn’t too good to suffer or exempt from it, neither were His Apostles and neither are we. In fact Jesus had to be baptized/ immersed in suffering, (Lk. 12:50). Christ was focused on the prize (the end results); we too have to focus on the end result – the hope of our salvation fulfilled at His return!

The fourth reason we will experience trials and sufferings is that our heavenly Father is preparing us by refining us for His higher purposes. Biblical brokenness is found in the refining process. The refining process has both an immediate purpose and an eternal purpose. God’s desired immediate purpose is to develop godly character in us that we may reflect Him to a lost and dying, dark world. God’s eternal purpose for us is to ultimately come into His un-veiled, holy presence. Refining involves a whole lot of fire and pressure that we may let go of that which the trials have shaken loose (Heb.12:27-29).  The hotter the fire, the more pure we potentially can be, depending on our response – which reveals our true condition.  Psalms 66:10, For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined (NKJV). Isaiah 48:10 I [God] have refined you, … I have refined you in the furnace of suffering (NLT). Psalm 119:67,71, 75 says Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. I know, O LORD, that your laws are righteous and in faithfulness you have afflicted me (NIV), and Isaiah 45:7 speaks of God orchestrating and allowing and being Sovereign over every situation to bring impurities and character flaws to our attention that we may repent of them.

Biblical brokenness is not God punishing us or sending us a sickness. It is not us whipping ourselves. It is not the devil beating us up or sin prevailing in our lives. Rather, it is what God is doing in us as we walk through trials and tribulations that could be caused by any one of the above under the Sovereignty of God. It is us working in cooperation with God as we experience the pressures of life and hardships from whatever means. It is us grabbing onto the Grace of God and allowing His will to be done in us as we go through suffering of any sort.

By spending time in prayer and worship, the study of the Word, sitting under sound biblical teachings and accountable-fellowship in the church, is how we will mature to a place of being able to discern the cause of our sufferings. These disciplines will also equip us to gain the wisdom and support needed to navigate our way free from the impurities within us and into His glorious light and joyful freedom. Sometimes the cause or “the why,” will still remain a mystery. Our heavenly Father desires our complete trust in Him; we are to continue to walk faithfully by His Grace; refining and blessings are promised to follow!

People are often confused of the cause behind their trouble. If we are confused about the cause then we will have difficulty discerning which discipline to exercise to navigate our way out of trouble, jeopardizing the development of godly character. Some are confused because they either don’t understand or outright reject biblical brokenness. They’ll say it isn’t for today, that it’s Old Testament stuff; “Jesus suffered for us so we don’t have to.” How misled and out-of-touch with reality these people are. There is suffering all around us. They’ll also say, “God wants us to grow from faith to faith, from glory to glory, and prosper and be victorious.” This is a true statement, however to grow like this the Bible teaches in John 15:2 that healthy growth comes by pruning; which is being cut back, reduced; and cutting hurts if you haven’t noticed. We have to understand what is being cut away. It’s the extra baggage if you will; the sin natured stuff that keeps us from coming into the presence of God.  When there are nay-sayers against truth, it always leads to some kind of imbalance and abuse. For example, they’ll say out of balance things like “your sickness is definitely from God to teach you a specific lesson; so find and learn your lesson rather than pray for healing.” This is wrong! God does not want us sick! In fact, Scripture declares that divine healing is for today in over 75 references in the New Testament & over 110 references in Old Testament. Other abuses concerning the message of brokenness are extreme acts of self-mutilation. Acts like whipping themselves, crawling on their knees for miles until they bleed, some have even nailed themselves to a cross to suffer like Jesus. These folks are totally missing the concept and purpose of biblical brokenness.

When we examine the heroes of faith in the Bible and how they each responded to their specific troubles, we see different responses to different attacks.  Some did not respond in the natural but exercised spiritual warfare, or just rested in belief and faith, knowing God has it under control. Other times they responded by doing something in the natural by faith. For instance; when Saul was throwing spears at David trying to kill him, David didn’t retaliate. Rather, his response was waiting in faith; knowing this is God’s battle and trusted God with his destiny.  John 10:10 shows us the spiritual principal happening – “the devil comes to kill.” We cannot physically kill the devil, so when he is obviously trying to kill us, our discipline to victory is an unseen fight of faith. Ephesians 6:12 tells us who the real enemy is that is trying to kill us while 2Cor. 10:4-5 tells us how to fight against such forces of darkness. God probably did not author these tribulations for David, yet, at the same time, the Sovereignty of God was sure using these situations to bring biblical brokenness – David had to be refined because God was preparing a King.  What is God preparing you for?

A different cause of David’s suffering required a different means of response. In 1Samuel chapter 30 we have the story about David and his army being robbed of everything they had, including their wives and children. John 10:10 tells us the devil comes to steal. This case was more in the natural and required a natural response of faith and courage. Faith and courage is a part of godly character that God wants to develop in us! David had to go physically take back what the enemy had stolen from him. Abraham gives us the same example in Genesis 14:13-16.

International evangelist Reinhard Bonnke gave a great response when asked why God allows such suffering in the world. The German born evangelist explained with an analogy of the German Minister of Transportation who establishes the laws of the road for order and safety. When one of those laws is broken, accidents will happen. The more laws being ignored and broken on the roads, the more accidents will happen, (and that’s exactly what we see to be true). Somewhere, somehow one of Gods spiritual laws was violated. Sufferings are ultimately due to separation from God and His divine laws and order.

Understanding what brokenness is not helps us see where the message of brokenness fits into the Bible. Especially when compared to the more popular messages of self-improvement, prosperity, overcoming, and being more than a conqueror unto victory, etc. All these are God’s desire for us however, the way there, is by way of the cross!

My prayer is that we let patience have its perfect work in us (now) that we may be (refined) perfect and complete in Christ, that He can present us to eternal glory before a Holy God.


Rob Franzen

The mission of the “Creation Under Fire project” is to educate people with the truth of our origin as revealed in the first book of the Holy Bible – Genesis. To establish a clear understanding of the original thought and intent of the author as it was originally recorded; therewith, dispelling untrue theories of creation within the church. In turn, strengthening people’s faith and equipping them with real answers for the faith they possess and to defend it well. Also to expose the most subtle scheme Satan has ever unleashed on humanity, which has sent more people to hell than any other attack mankind has ever known. Refranzen1@live.com     www.CreationUnderFire.com

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views the Virginia Christian Alliance

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