The Good News About Pain and Suffering

“I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us… For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong!” 2 Corinthians 7:9-11 (ESV)

Every ounce of our being tells us to flee from pain and suffering, but the fact is that they are gifts!

Why?

Because they cause us to face the total inadequacy of our idols and wholeness (self-sufficiency) to truly sustain us. Furthermore, they bring us face to face with our true state of being: brokenness.

If you find yourself in a state of brokenness, you are in luck! God is drawn to brokenness and inadequacy like a magnet!

Fig Leaves

As humans, we spend a lot of time trying to conceal or deny our core identity (brokenness) and our internal response to it (shame).

The world teaches us to be self-sufficient (whole), but we aren’t whole. Not even close.

The truth is that we are broken… broken to the core.

Most of us are terrified of facing this truth.

As human beings, we have fallen from a great height (the fall), and we are deeply ashamed at our present state. This shame is an essential, yet hidden, part of our identity. Our shame revolves around our truly broken state. If you read Genesis chapter two, you see that we used to live in connection with God. We were spiritually alive and we knew no shame (Genesis 2:25). But, we squandered our riches and threw that life away. We broke our world and severed our connection with God. As a result, we died.

Forced to leave our home (“The Garden”) we found ourselves adrift in an existential sea of emptiness and disconnectedness.

This is the source of our shame. We earned it!

The World’s Answer

The West’s modern answer to this universal human problem is to constantly recite mantras to combat the shame:

“You are special!”

“You are beautiful!”

“You are a god!”

Don’t get me wrong. There is value in positive thinking, but it doesn’t fix the core of the problem.

The God Magnet

When we encounter our own brokenness, the failure of our idols, and the lie of our self-sufficiency, there is hope. Because then, God can truly begin to heal and transform us.

Watchman Nee spoke about the value of brokenness in his work, The Normal Christian Life, when he said:

“A drowning man cannot be saved until he is utterly exhausted and ceases to make the slightest effort to save himself. [God] is waiting until we are at the end of our resources and can do nothing more for ourselves. God has condemned all that is of the old creation and consigned it to the Cross. The flesh profiteth nothing!”

Human beings value strength, pride, and confidence. We despise weakness and brokenness, casting broken things into the trash. At best, we pity weak and broken humans; at worst, we treat them as things to be used, run over, and crushed.

In the kingdom of heaven, the opposite is true.

Incredibly, God is attracted to your weakness and brokenness. He needs your brokenness to bring you to life.

This concept can be found throughout scripture, but it is largely overlooked. Examine these scriptures for yourself. Several of these are in the JKS (Jeff King Standard Version) of the Bible. In other words, I’ve paraphrased these verses after dissecting them in the Greek or Hebrew to highlight the fullest meaning.

“The LORD stays close to those who are broken and fractured and He saves those who are pulverized.”

Psalm 34:18 (JKS)

“I live in a holy place but I also settle down and live with the broken and crushed ones in order to bring them life and sustain them.”

Psalm 57:15 (JKS)

“For You do not delight in sacrifices or burnt offerings. Rather, what God wants as a ‘sacrifice’ is a broken and crushed spirit and repentant heart.”

Psalm 51:16-17 (JKS)

“But to this one, I will look, To him who is humble (ani: afflicted, humble) and contrite (nakeh: smitten, stricken, crippled) of spirit, and who trembles (chared: afraid) at My word.”

Isaiah 66:1-2 (NAS)

“Happy are those whose hearts are really needy – like beggars. Blessed are those who are broken and needy: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Matthew 5:3 (JKS)

Ashamed No More

So don’t be ashamed of your shame!

Throw away your crutches and, with all your might, tell God that He is the answer and that there is no other. Fling open the doors of your heart and ask Him to fill you up.

Praise Him for His goodness and tell Him you need true life (His presence).

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