Broken, But Not In Pieces
“My spirit is broken, my days are cut short, the grave awaits me.” vs. 1
Chippie the Parakeet
Chippie was a happy little bird, content to sit on his perch, swinging and singing to his little heart’s content. One day Chippie’s owner started to clean out his cage. She took the attachment off the end of the vacuum hose and stuck the hose in the cage to clean the bottom. Just then the phone rang. She turned to pick it up and had barely said hello when “ssswwooopp!” Chippie got sucked up the hose! As you can imagine, the lady gasped, dropped the phone, and turned off the vacuum. She ripped open the bag just to find Chippie lying in the dust. He was alive, but totally in a daze.
The owner did the only thing she could think of: She picked him up and ran to the bathroom sink and turned on the water full blast. She stuck him under the water and then started to wash the dirt off him really fast, being oblivious to the fact that Chippie was nearly drowning. Then realizing poor little Chippie was soaked and shivering, she did what any good bird owner would do; she reached for the hair dryer and blasted the little guy with hot air. Poor Chippie never knew what hit him.
A couple of days later, the person who had originally called made another call to check up on the bird. She asked how the bird was doing. The owner said, “Well, instead of singing like he used to, he just sits there and stares off into space.”
Most of us can identify with little Chippie, can’t we? Things seemed to be going okay in our lives, and then out of nowhere, we are hit hard with something very hard to cope with. And from that point on, we are no longer the same as we were.
Most of us have gone through a tough day, a bad week, a hard month or maybe even a really rotten year. What can we do? What can we learn? Can we change it? Today we are going to read about a guy that went through a really rough patch…and he did nothing wrong; his name is Job. We read some of his words in the book of Job chapter 17. If you are able, please stand as we read God’s Word.
Read Passage – Job 17
1 My spirit is broken, my days are cut short, the grave awaits me. 2 Surely mockers surround me; my eyes must dwell on their hostility. 3 “Give me, O God, the pledge you demand. Who else will put up security for me? 4 You have closed their minds to understanding; therefore you will not let them triumph. 5 If anyone denounces their friends for reward, the eyes of their children will fail. 6 “God has made me a byword to everyone, a man in whose face people spit. 7 My eyes have grown dim with grief; my whole frame is but a shadow. 8 The upright are appalled at this; the innocent are aroused against the ungodly. 9 Nevertheless, the righteous will hold to their ways, and those with clean hands will grow stronger. 10 “But come on, all of you, try again! I will not find a wise man among you. 11 My days have passed, my plans are shattered. Yet the desires of my heart 12 turn night into day; in the face of the darkness light is near. 13 If the only home I hope for is the grave, if I spread out my bed in the realm of darkness, 14 if I say to corruption, ‘You are my father,’ and to the worm, ‘My mother’ or ‘My sister,’ 15 where then is my hope—who can see any hope for me? 16 Will it go down to the gates of death? Will we descend together into the dust?”
The Problem of Pain
I don’t know if Chippie ever recovered fully and got back to being the bird he was. The problem with pain, difficulty, and bad periods of life is that we rarely get to prepare for them, we don’t know until we are in them that we are in them, and it’s a bit weird but many times they come after a period of good times.
I went through a period like this when I was 16-17. It wasn’t the only time I have gone through something like this but this one did hit me hard. I had just come out of a great period of time. I was the sophomore class president, I had been dating the same girl for about 14 to 16 months, I was starting goalie on the JV Water polo team, and things seemed great and the future seemed bright. But it hit. I lost my election to become the school vice president, moved up to varsity in Water polo but wasn’t playing very much, I had been regulated to the bench, shortly after that my girlfriend broke up with me for a college guy, I was cut from the basketball team so they could make room for a younger guy, and the real difficulty was my great grandmother, both my grandmothers on either side of my family, one of my grandfathers, 2 uncles, and an aunt all died within this 16-18 month period. I remember literally running out of my Junior Psych class crying when they showed this movie about grandparents. Ran all the way home. It was scary when the phone rang because it was like; O.K. who died? And…I did something I said I was never going to do. I started going to parties and drinking. Ever been through a tough period like that? I wish I could tell you it was the only time I have been through something like that but that just isn’t the case.
What Brokenness Feels Like
We have been talking the last few weeks about emotional and spiritual health. The Bible talks about times that we go through like this. In fact, in Job 17 it starts by naming these periods. Look again at verse 1:
“My spirit is broken…” vs.1
This is something Job went through…brokenness. Brokenness is a tough period of life. It’s more than just a bad day or a tough week. It’s a long period of distress, difficulty and sadness. It’s has a raw feeling to it. I think Job 17 helps us understand what brokenness feels like.
Aloneness vs. 3 ”Who else will put up security for me?”
Insignificance vs. 6 “God has made me a byword to everyone…”
Mockery vs. 6 ”…a man in whose face people spit.”
Weakness vs. 7 “…my whole frame is but a shadow.”
Grief vs. 7 ”My eyes have grown dim with grief…”
Dying vs. 11 ”My days have passed, my plans are shattered.”
Darkness vs. 12-13 ”…in the face of the darkness light is near. 13 If the only home I hope for is the grave, if I spread out my bed in the realm of darkness…”
Hopelessness vs. 15 ”…where then is my hope—who can see any hope for me?”
Sometimes the Bible can really nail the difficulties in life and how we feel when we go through them. One of the challenges I put out to us this year is to move into a deeper relationship with God. Sometimes it in the difficulties, in the brokenness, that we search for God and for the purpose in life.
Putting the Pieces Back Together
I entitled todays sermon “Broken, but not in pieces.” You may be in a time of brokenness or might have gone through a time of brokenness. I am here to tell you there is hope. I am here to tell you that God loves you, has a purpose for you, and that though you might be going through a time of struggle, God wants to work in your life and wants to be in deeper relationship with you. From Job’s story, we learn what it looks like to put the pieces back together. I am here to tell you that if you desire to move into a deeper relationship with God that he will move into a deeper relationship with you. We learn a few things from Job too.
The first thing, and it’s a tough thing to see in those tough times, is that you need to repent. Anyone know what the idea of repentance is? It is literally “to turn.” In a much deeper way, it is admitting your part, and get this, even when you didn’t do anything wrong. Now remember Job didn’t do anything wrong yet in 42:6 we read these words;
“Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:6
Now many have given the illustration of turning 180 degrees and walking the other way (Walk it out). I have used that illustration. Today, take it a step further. Repent is also admitting your part. Job listen to his friends, who were no help at all to him. But even though they were wrong, Job still put a lot of stock in his goodness. At the end of the book when he is confronted by God , he realizes this and repents. He realizes that he was still counting on his works and good nature to carry him through and here, in his brokenness, in chapter 42, after being confronted by God…he repents. See if you take repent meaning “to turn,” we are literally turning from ourselves and turning to God. It’s the realization that we aren’t any better than anyone else. It’s the sense that even at our best, we are still sinful in God’s sight and we need him, his grace, and his forgiveness. Even though Job was in the right he still considered himself “better” in a sense; better than them. Admitting our part says we are all in need of God and his love, his peace, his forgiveness. We are all in the same boat. Jesus’ message was just that simple, Matt. 4:17:
“From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matt. 4:17
Repenting is looking at ourselves with a candidness, honesty and soberness that, even at our best, we are deeply flawed and in need of God’s grace and mercy. No matter how good I am, I turn from myself and turn to God.
The second step is to remain. Remain is another way of saying that we wait on God. In our story of Job, he sits. He remains. He waits on the Lord. Here is the thing about waiting, waiting takes time. It sounds so obvious but we struggle to wait. We want answers. We want solutions. We want something to do to make it better and something to make us feel better. Everything that Satan did to Job was so fast. I one fell swoop he takes away his children. In another his cows and donkeys, in another his sheep and still another his camels. This happens in rapid succession. Then his health is attacked and he is covered in boils and he sits in pain. Now the waiting begins. See what we want is the solution and “fix” to come as fast or faster than the struggle. But…remaining by its very definition takes time. We have a hard time waiting, even on God. David says this in Psalm 27:4:
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14
Notice how many times in this verse he says remain or wait; three times. Waiting on the Lord is trusting his plan and his timing. Sometimes that is a lot longer than the struggle and difficulty that we have gone through.
Ex. Many of you know the story of Abraham. In Genesis 15 god makes a covenant with Abram. He says he will be the father of many nations and changes his name to Abraham. He was 75 years old when God tells him this. Sarah is 64. I don’t know about you but at that point I am not thinking about having kids. God promises Abraham and Sarah. By Genesis 16, 11 years have passed. That right there is a long wait. Abraham is now 84 and Sarah 75. Nothing has happened. At Sarah’s request Abraham sleeps with her maidservant, Hagar. See, they got tired of waiting. Hagar has a child but that wasn’t God’s promise, they took it into their own hands. God still used her son Ishmael and made him the father of many people. By Genesis 21 Abraham is 99 and Sarah is 90. Now Sarah gets pregnant. So get this, they had to wait 24 years to see the covenant fulfilled. Now that is some serious waiting.
One of the themes of the Bible is that we need to wait on God. Psalm 130:5:
“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.” Psalm 130:5
David touches the great promise that comes from waiting on the Lord…hope!
And the third step to emotional spiritual health through brokenness is release. We live in a world of “happiness” or temporary joy. We make our decisions based on happiness. When we do that, we find temporary relief from struggle but we usually do not find the long lasting joy. Happiness tends to be a momentary change from the pain.
Ex. We buy something to bring us some sense of happiness, i.e. clothing, gadgets, cars, houses, phones, even food. We even tend to go overboard with these things and then we find the struggle later when we get the bills and have to pay for our temporary happiness. This leads to a counterfeit self.
God, instead, wants us to have freedom. That freedom comes in releasing ourselves, our issues, our struggles, and our pain to God. This is an issue of trust. Trust that God has a plan for us and his plan is good and best for us. Psalm 51:22:
“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” Psalm 55:22
David says this in Psalm 51 as he is recovering from a dark and broken period of his life after his sin of adultery, murder, and lying. Peter reiterates it in 1Peter 5:7:
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
Let me follow this up with a question:
Where do you find your identity?
Is it in your things? Like these? (show picture) Is it in your job? Your family? Your good works? Your kids? Etc. Releasing says your give it all to God and you find your identity in him.
Ex. I told you about that period in my life when I was 16-17. When I gotten broken enough one Saturday I jumped in my car and drove to Santa Cruz. By myself. I walked on the beach for a couple of hours. I had prayed the prayer and received Christ in my heart when I was 6. Now I prayed and released my life to God. I was ready to find my identity in him.
New Life On the Other Side – Restoration
The story doesn’t end there. When we have gone through all this and repented, remained, and release, something incredible comes; restoration. In the case of Job, chapter 42 tells us that he had 10 more children, and all his cattle and flocks and herds were restored, double. But all that takes time. But like Job, restoration comes. Like David, restoration comes. David said in Psalm 51:12
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
The Bible is full of restoration stories. In fact, that is why Jesus came, to restore us. We were worth dying for to be restored. God’s purpose is to have a loving relationship with him. We enjoy what we have because God created all this for our enjoyment and his creation is good. We appreciate all he has given us because he is gracious and generous but we are not defined by those things. We find our identity and worth in our relationship with God Almighty because we are children of the king!