Walking through Detroit the other day, I realized how deeply broken the city is. There are abandoned houses everywhere. There are abandoned businesses everywhere. There are abandoned churches everywhere. There are actually entire blocks that are completely abandoned. Actually, brokenness seems to be a characteristic of many inner cities. But it got me thinking about the purpose of brokenness and our duty as believers in it.
Psalms 51:16-17 says, “For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” That seems harsh in some ways. The Hebrew word for broken in this scripture means:
What the heck Lord? You desire me to be broken? What good will that do? What purpose does a broken city serve? How can you get glory from me when I’m wrecked, crushed, ruptured or rent violently? But as I reflected on my own life, the places I truly cry out to the Lord in are the places where I am the most broken. When I struggle against sin or stumble through difficult relationships I go to the only One who can help, has helped in the past, and I ask for His intervention. When I come to the point where I know there’s no way I can handle something on my own and that I truly, sincerely need the help of my God, He can truly begin to shine in the situation free of my ideas and help. One of the purposes, then, of brokenness is to cause us to turn or return to the Lord. It’s a revival tool.
In my years in the streets I have seen brokenness manipulated by the enemy. I have seen a tragedy cause a mother to turn to drugs. I have seen unfaithfulness cause a spouse to turn bitter and unforgiving. I have seen the downward spiral of a city cause the remaining residents to lose any hope they had left and then become animalistic in their existence. This is where we as believers come in.
We need to learn to intercede on the behalf of those who are being broken so that its true purpose can be realized in their lives and so the enemy doesn’t redirect the brokenness into destruction. If you’ve ever experienced deep brokenness in your life you realize how easily it can turn into despair, depression, doubt or hopelessness. This isn’t God’s desire. God’s desire in brokenness is that people (or cities) who have forgotten Him, would remember their creator and return to Him. Like Zechariah prophesied, “‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you.'”
Please join in our prayers that the brokenness of the inner cities we work in is seen for what it really is: A revival tool that causes people to return to their Maker. Pray against despair and hopelessness and pray that the eyes of the people will be opened and they would turn to the Lord and He would heal them and heal their land.