Moving from Bitterness to Brokenness & the Power of God in Your Life
“He will either become bitter or broken,” were the words I heard in my heart as I prayed for my brother-in-law, John, who was feeling very discouraged in life. He had been unable to find employment for two years and had just filed for bankruptcy. I immediately knew what the Holy Spirit meant. John had a choice in how he would respond to this devastating ordeal. If he responded with anger, self-pity, and blaming God, his heart would become bitter and hardened, and God would not be able to use him. On the other hand, if he would fall on his face and say, “God I do not understand why this has happened to me, but I know You are good and I am putting myself in your hands and trusting You through it all,” pride and unhealthy self-reliance would be broken and he would become a vessel through whom God could flow. This is what Jesus called falling on the stone.
Jesus & Brokenness
In Matt. 21:44 Jesus said, And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder. The context of the statement reveals that that the stone he speaks of is “the chief cornerstone,” i.e., Himself. Jesus is saying that whoever will fall on Him—the Stone-- in utter abandonment will be broken of all self-trust and self-reliance that is rooted in ego and pride. Through such a broken vessel, the river of God’s Spirit will flow freely out to others bringing hope and healing. 

Biblical brokenness is not a breaking of one’s will and spirit, but the breaking of ego, pride, and self-reliance. One may do impressive religious works from ego, pride, and self-reliance, but the life of God will only flow through a vessel that has been broken of any trust in self—a vessel that has been abandoned to God in absolute trust and reliance.
Paul Experienced Brokenness
Paul knew what it was to be broken in this sense. In II Cor. 1:8-9 he tells of going through an ordeal so terrible that he and his companions gave up hope of ever living through it. Yet, in the midst of this ordeal he and his companions learned, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead. They gave up any trust in themselves—they fell on the Stone--and out of their brokenness and trust in God, His resurrection power was manifest and they were delivered from so great a death

In I Cor. 2:1-5, Paul describes his ministry at Corinth in terms of his human brokenness and weakness. He reminds the Corinthians that when he first came to them it was, in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. The word “trembling” in this passage is a translation of the Greek word tromo from which we get “trauma” and “traumatic.” Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon defines this word as “a trembling, quaking with fear in one who distrusts his/her ability completely.” Paul did not arrive in Corinth full of self-confidence and announcing that God’s great apostle had arrived to take over the city. He arrived in the city a broken man, having been stoned and left for dead in Lystra, beaten and imprisoned in Philippi, and attacked by a mob in Thessalonica. But instead of responding to his difficulties with anger and bitterness, he fell on the Stone in utter abandonment of faith and, through his brokenness, God worked mightily to establish a beachhead for Christianity in that wicked, pagan city of Corinth. It was out of these deep broken experiences that Paul would declare, Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God (II Cor. 3:5).
Brokenness in My Own Life
I recall one of the most devastating times of my life during the early days of our marriage and ministry. Through a series of circumstances, over which it seemed we had no control, Sue and I lost everything, including a place to live and a place to have our “church” meetings. Our already small congregation dwindled to a handful. At the same time, my brother in Oklahoma was killed in an accident and I had to leave Canada to be in OK/TX for several days. Everyone was discouraged and no one had the motivation to continue church meetings while I was gone. Chris, my mother-in-law, said, “That was when it all died.” It was a devastating time but I fell on the Stone in utter abandonment of faith and I heard one of the most amazing words I ever heard, “Don’t be afraid of death, because I am the resurrection.” With pride and self-reliance broken, we stepped out in a faith purified in the fire of adversity, and God came forth in power and brought forth a work far more wonderful than what we had been previously attempting to do in our own human flesh.
The Original Sin was Human Self-Reliance
The sin of the fall was one of human sufficiency apart from God. Our first human parents were not atheists—they did not deny the existence of God. Their sin was that they declared their independence from God and set out to build a world—a social and ethical system—in their own wisdom and ingenuity apart from God. This sort of self-reliance, based in human-centered ego and pride, has become innate in fallen humanity. This is the original sin. It is what keeps non-believers from God and believers from fully experiencing His power in their lives.
America was Settled by Broken Believers
I often hear conservative pundits speak of America being founded on “self-reliance.” This is not true. America was founded on a God-reliance, as is clearly documented in my book, America’s Revival Heritage. I understand that these pundits are making the point that the people who established America were not dependent on government, which is true. But that is only part of the truth. Having been beaten down and persecuted by both the civil government and the state church, they had given up all trust in their own human strength and came to this land with a faith abandoned to God. Not until the churches in America move away from a human-centered self-reliance and fall on the Stone in an utter abandonment of faith will we see a true spiritual awakening in America.
From Self-Centered to Christ-Centered Confidence
Yes, God wants us to have confidence, but it is a Christ-centered confidence, not a self or ego centered confidence. In Phil. 4:13 Paul makes that familiar statement we so often quote, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens (empowers) me. Paul can do all things, but it is not through Paul, it is through Christ in whom he had learned to completely trust. 

If today you are going through a difficult or devastating time. Do not respond in bitterness. Let go of all self-trust or self-reliance. Fall on the Stone in an utter abandonment of faith. You will see God come forth on your behalf in ways you would never have imagined.

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