God’s Makings Through Breakings
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For those of us who know and love Jesus, our whole experience in this life is like a great schooling. The Lord is our teacher who wants to teach each of us about Himself and His love, salvation and service, and to help us to grow in faith and in His Word and be transformed into His likeness (2 Corinthians 3:18).
God knows that none of us will ever be able to truly accomplish His will apart from Him in our own strength. In fact, Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). But the Bible also says that we “can do all things through Christ” (Philippians 4:13). If we will surrender our hearts and lives to the Lord, and are willing to become whatever God may want us to become—not what we are, but what God wants us to become—then He can use us for His glory!
Of course, to put the Lord in first place in our lives and to submit ourselves to Him is not something that we learn overnight. It takes time, it takes breakings, and it takes lessons and experiences that cause us to draw closer to Him.
The list is almost endless of all the people in the Bible who God had to humble before He could use them, of all the leaders God had to bring down to the depths before they could be greatly used—lest they would have taken credit to themselves and not given God the glory.
Consider the life of Joseph, for example. Of Jacob’s 12 sons, he was his father’s favorite. His elder brothers finally became so jealous of him that they nearly killed him, threw him into a pit, and then sold him into slavery! But that’s what the Lord used to humble him and prepare him to fulfill God’s purpose for him. Joseph had to experience being made a slave and a prisoner and being condemned as a criminal before God was able to exalt him to become a savior for His people during a time of famine (Genesis 37–41).
Another example is Moses. For 40 years he was groomed in the courts of Pharaoh, and rose to become the second most powerful man in the mighty world empire of ancient Egypt. The Bible says he was “educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:22), but God could not yet use him to lead His people to freedom, for he was full of the ways of the world and not the ways of God. Moses had to be broken first. God allowed him to become a fugitive from Pharaoh, and he had to spend 40 years in the wilderness tending sheep before he was humble enough for God to use him for the great task He had designed him for! (See Exodus 2–3.)
And consider King David, the greatest king that Israel ever had. When he fell in love with Bathsheba, purposely had her husband killed in battle, and then tried to lie and cover up the entire crime, God had to expose him, humble him, and severely chastise him. After that, he was driven from the throne by his own traitorous son, Absalom. (See 2 Samuel 11, 12 and 15).
But was David’s fall really a fall downward, or a fall upward? God’s way up is sometimes down—often, in fact! David was humbled, and the whole kingdom was humbled, and they were all reminded that it was only the Lord who made them great. From that squeezing and twisting of David’s life came forth the sweet honey of the psalms, and the fragrance of his praises to the Lord for His mercy.
The brave and mighty prophet Elijah was able to call down fire from heaven to confound the false prophets of Baal and to demonstrate the power of God (1 Kings 18). But afterwards, he panicked and ran away from one woman, the wicked Queen Jezebel! Hiding out in the wilderness, he became so discouraged that he wished that he might die. But there in his time of desperation, this prophet of fire and thunder became a meek man who learned to listen to the still, small voice of God (1 Kings 19:11–12). And he became a much better, humbler instrument in the hands of the Lord—a prophet who fearlessly returned to face not only the queen, but the king and all of their soldiers.
The Apostle Peter is yet another example of God’s makings through breakings. He swore to Jesus, “Though all others forsake You, I am ready to go with You both to prison and to death” (Luke 22:33). But just a few hours later, when Jesus was seized by the temple guards and hauled before the Jewish religious court, some people outside of the building recognized Peter and pointed him out as a friend of Jesus. Peter vehemently denied that he even knew the Lord, cursing and swearing that he had no idea what they were talking about (Mark 14:66–71).
As he was denying the Lord the third time, Jesus, who was being led by His captors to another part of the building, turned and gazed upon Peter, and Peter remembered how he had sworn that he would never deny Him. The Bible tells us that Peter then “went out and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62). Was this the end of Peter’s service for the Lord? No! It was shortly after this humiliating defeat, this great failure, that the Lord used Peter to become the leader of the early church.
Or consider the Apostle Paul. He was a zealous Jewish Pharisee and had personally taken it upon himself to put an end to the fast-growing sect of the followers of Jesus of Nazareth. Journeying by horseback to Damascus, where he intended on capturing, imprisoning, and executing as many Christians as he could find, God had to literally knock him off his horse and blind him with the brilliant light of His presence! Trembling, helpless, and blind, he had to be led by the hand into the city, where he was so astonished that he was unable to eat or drink for three days! A disciple of the Lord then came to give him God’s message and pray for his eyes, and Saul was converted and became the great Apostle Paul. But God had to humble and break him first and make him a new man before He was able to use him. (See Acts 9.)
So even if you don’t always understand why you’re going through tests, trials, hardships, and breakings, remember, God knows what He’s doing. He knows all the purposes and reasons behind each test, trial, or trouble we face. He promises that “All things work together for good to them that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). He is not going to allow anything to happen to you, His child, except that which will somehow work for your good. Of course, we often feel like a lot of things happen to us that don’t look very good. But sooner or later (whether in this life or the next) you will find out that somehow they worked together for your good.
You will find that God gets some of His greatest victories out of seeming defeats.—Victories of submission, brokenness, humility, and utter dependence on Him, which you must have if you’re going to become all that God wants you to be. So take heart from these examples from the Bible, and don’t be discouraged when things seem to go wrong and your hopes are disappointed.
Everyone who has ever been used of the Lord had to first be broken, humbled, and brought virtually to the end of themselves. Otherwise, they would have been too self-confident in their own wisdom and natural abilities and would have been tempted to take the glory to themselves if God were to use them. This is why He chooses to use the weak things and the foolish things, “that no human being might boast in His presence” (1 Corinthians 1:25–29).
God does not always see things as we see them, “For His thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are His ways our ways” (Isaiah 55:8–9), and He does not judge or reward us according to our success or failure, but according to our faithfulness. In heaven one day He’ll say to those who are true to Him, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21). He won’t say “failure servant” or “successful servant,” but He’ll say “faithful servant.”
So above all, stay faithful to Jesus! And remember, your seeming defeats can become victories for the Lord if you will humble yourself and learn the lessons that He is trying to teach you, as these men in the Bible did. “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” (1 Corinthians 10:11).
From an article in Treasures, published by the Family International in 1987. Adapted and republished August 2023. Read by Reuben Ruchevsky.
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