Programmed for Happiness


Brokenness is not a feeling; it is a lifestyle, a choice that reveals a heart open to God.

Our generation has been programmed to pursue happiness, wholeness, affirmation, and cures for our hurt feelings and damaged psyches. But God is not as interested in these ends as we are. He is more committed to making us holy than making us happy. And there is only one pathway to holiness—one road to genuine revival—and that is the pathway of humility or brokenness.

God is more committed to making us holy than making us happy.

The Scripture makes it clear that this is the number one prerequisite to meeting God in revival. “For this is what the high and lofty One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy: ‘I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly’” (Isa. 57:15, NIV).

We often think of revival as a time of great joy, blessing, fullness, and celebration. And so it will be in its fullness. But the problem is that we want a painless Pentecost, a “laughing” revival. We forget that God’s ways are not our ways, that the way up is down.

You and I will never meet God in revival until we first meet Him in brokenness. That does not mean, as some think, having a gloomy countenance or being morbidly introspective. Nor can it be equated with deeply emotional experiences. It is possible to shed buckets of tears without ever experiencing a moment of brokenness. Further, brokenness is not the same as being deeply hurt by tragic circumstances. A person may have experienced many deep hurts and tragedies without being broken.

Brokenness is not a feeling; rather, it is a choice, an act of the will. It is not primarily a one-time experience or crisis (though there may be crisis points in the process of brokenness); rather, it is an ongoing, continual lifestyle.

Brokenness is a lifestyle of agreeing with God about the true condition of our heart and life, as He sees it. It is a lifestyle of unconditional, absolute surrender of our will to the will of God—a heart attitude that says, “Yes, Lord!” to whatever God says. Brokenness means the shattering of our self-will, so that the life and Spirit of the Lord Jesus may be released through us. It is our response of humility and obedience to the conviction of the Word and the Spirit of God.

Brokenness is a lifestyle of agreeing with God about the true condition of our heart and life, as He sees it.

Scripture provides us with numerous examples of broken people. Interestingly, these examples are often set in contrast to people who were not broken. In every case, both individuals had sinned. The difference was not so much in the nature of their sin, but in their response when confronted with it.

For example, two kings sat on a throne. One king, in a fit of passion, committed adultery with his neighbor’s wife, and then plotted to have his neighbor killed. Yet, when the story of his life was told, this man was called “a man after God’s own heart.” By contrast, his predecessor’s sin was relatively insignificant—he was only guilty of incomplete obedience. But it cost him his kingdom, his life, and his family. What was the difference?

When King Saul was confronted with his sin, he defended and excused himself, blamed others, and tried to cover up both the sin and its consequences. In short, his response revealed a proud, unbroken heart. On the other hand, when King David was faced with his sin, he was willing to acknowledge his failure, to accept personal responsibility for his wrongdoing, and repent of his sin. His response was that of a humble, broken man. And his was the heart God honored.

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