Brokenness is part of God’s plan. I am convinced of this. I don’t know what else we can conclude when we consider that God knew before He created the world, that the world and the humans in it, would have problems. I was reflecting on this the other day when I realized that if I didn’t have pain, and if my time wasn’t limited, I would never appreciate the people and the goodness that exists in my life. Time and pain grant us the means for measuring goodness.
One of the things that Paul seems to be wrestling with in His letter to the Romans is the fact that Israel’s failure was always part of God’s plan. This doesn’t mean that God wanted Israel to fail, (Paul deals with that too), but it means that He had a purpose for it. I heard a talk by Andy Stanley recently where he said, “success is intoxicating and failure is humiliating.” And this is very true. It has also been said that we learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes. And this is also true. When I have success in ministry, it very easily leads me to be overconfident and condescending toward other ministries. I don’t want to be this way, but it happens unconsciously after several positive ministry experiences. But the times when I really fail, even while giving my best and preparing thoroughly beforehand, are the times that lead me to a fresh place of brokenness. The times of ministry following a moment of failure are almost always the best and richest times because I am brought down to earth about myself. My view of myself is much more realistic and humble and my compassion for others in the middle of their failures is much greater. Again, this isn't because God likes failure or rewards failure. It seems, however, that the only way for me to really agree with God is to sometimes taste the results of my own failures. Only then will I really believe God from a place of deep conviction. Only then will it be heart knowledge as opposed to merely head knowledge. I have seen evidence of this in another area. As a family ministry, we have often sung and ministered at “Teen Challenge” addiction recovery centers. These are remarkable places of ministry which are more often than not, run by former addicts who have found freedom. I have often thought to myself that these former addicts are much better husband material for my sisters and for my daughters than I have seen in many places. Now, don’t get me wrong, addiction and the party life leave their scars and those scars hurt and can have residual effects long into a person's life. It is better not to ever have addictions. It is better not to father children from different women. It is better not to have a criminal record, or to be deep in financial debt. But the brokenness that can follow failure can produce a much more humble, down-to-earth, stable and committed Christian than the church kid who never did anything really bad, but neither was he exactly committed to Jesus. The truth is, we all have failures. Some are just more glaring than others. The glaring failures have the advantage of breaking us more profoundly. But the point isn’t to fail. The point is to be broken, to be humble, and to be honest about ourselves. The church kid who never really got into a lot of trouble is still a broken human being who needs to be aware that he is broken before he can do any real effective ministry. I know because I am that kid. This is the place of victory and the place of effective Christian ministry, knowing that I am broken and nothing without Jesus. God help me to stay in that place where I am broken by myself but raised to life in You.