Broken without Tears

For many years, I associated brokenness with weeping. Lots of it. 

If I saw a woman weeping at a revival meeting, I assumed she was deeply broken before the Lord. And if I turned another direction, and saw a woman sitting in a pew with her arms folded, I assumed she was hard in spirit or fighting the Lord.

Oh, how mistaken I was.

Over the years I've learned the truth - from experience.

I remember one church service when I bawled like a pinched baby. But if I'm gut honest, I have to tell you – I was a big fake. I wanted people to think God had touched my heart. I wanted people to think I was broken. (It hurts today to even think I would do that. Did I think God didn't know?)

And yet in another service, I sat in my seat, staring ahead with my arms folded across my body. Anyone looking at me that day might assume I was either fighting God or zoned out. In truth, my heart was breaking over a sin that had me in its grasp. My crossed arms were me trying to hold myself together! I was silently crying out to the Lord in that church pew. I was begging for His mercy and help.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss addresses this misunderstanding about brokenness in her book by the same name: Brokenness: The Heart God Revives.
"For many, brokenness conjures up the image of the shedding of tears – having a deeply emotional experience," she wrote. "They think of a time when they were deeply stirred by a song, moved by a message, or touched by an experience.

"Unfortunately, countless people have shed buckets full of tears and yet have never experienced a
moment of true brokenness. It is difficult to conceive of being truly broken without our emotions being involved. But it is important to understand it is possible to shed tears without being broken, and it is possible to experience brokenness without shedding any tears at all."

So what is brokenness? 

Brokenness is not a feeling, not an emotion. True brokenness requires a choice. It is an ongoing act of the will.
For the Christian, brokenness is meant to be a lifestyle!
  • Brokenness means agreeing with God and aligning my now-softened heart with His. 
  • There is no room for stubbornness, only submission. 
  • The broken person is repentant and contrite, ready to call sin "sin" and to press forward into holiness.
In that pressing forward, there is no self-reliance. The broken person realizes there is no hope for change apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in the human heart. There is no confidence in personal works or righteousness, but only in the all-sufficient grace of God.

Tears may come, especially in people with more tender temperaments, but not a single teardrop needs to fall for true, godly brokenness to occur.

The key is the condition of the heart.
  • "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit" (Psalm 34:18).
  • "The sacrifice of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise" (Psalm 51:17).
Tears or no tears, God sees the heart and knows if we are proud or if we have a humble, broken heart before Him.

What does God see today as He studies your heart?

Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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