In Our Brokenness
How would you react if I said, “God is attracted to your brokenness?” Possible reactions might be:
That can’t be true! God is repulsed by my brokenness.
Really? Why would God be attracted to it?
Isn’t that an amazing and wonderful blessing!
I understand the first reaction – it is kind of hard to believe. The image we have of our God is that He is encouraged when we make progress in our Christian lives, but weary, frustrated, and sometimes angry when we falter, fall, or fail in some other way.
Let me point to Isaiah 62:2b. This is the verse that prompted me to say, “God is attracted to our brokenness.” In the ESV v. 2b reads, But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.
When I originally encountered v. 2, I read it in the old NIV, which translated it as “This is the one I will esteem.” The Hebrew word means to look upon with favor. The current NIV uses “look with favor,” and the CSB translates, “look favorably.” God is looking with favor, esteeming someone. He is drawn to them.
So notice again what God esteems (looks on with favor): the one who is humble, contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word. The phrase “contrite in spirit” means “broken.”
“Broken” is an overused and misused word. It doesn’t mean an unrepentant person who is content to live in sin. But Christians who are struggling to live a godly life, who sometimes fail, who are dealing with old hurts that have never healed, but are nevertheless asking Jesus for help – these are the ones He esteems. It’s not that He offers grudging help. He isn’t exasperated that you’ve messed up one more time. He draws near to you because that’s what proceeds from His heart – mercy.
Think about Hebrews 2:18: For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. He deals with our struggles out of understanding and compassion. Later in Hebrews 4:15 we’re reminded of his sympathy: For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Dane Ortlund, in his book Gentle and Lowly, says of this verse, All our natural intuitions tell us that Jesus is with us, on our side, present and helping, when life is going well. This text says just the opposite. It is in "our weaknesses" that Jesus sympathizes with us..."Sympathize" here is not cool and detached pity...In our pain Jesus is pained; in our suffering, he feels the suffering as his own even though it isn't - not that his invincible divinity is threated, but in the sense that his heart is feelingly drawn into our distress...His is a love that cannot be held back when he sees his people in pain (p. 46).
Imagine what it might mean to you to know that, when you are failing, struggling, falling into temptation, that Jesus is drawn to help you, that your struggles attract, rather than repulse Him! Isaiah 62:2b says that the Lord looks with favor, mercy and compassion upon you when you bring your fears, failures, and faltering faith to Him. He is not disgusted, exasperated, or angry. He is your kind and compassionate Shepherd, and He will help you.