Red, blooming rose in the Rose Garden at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Happiness in spite of a broken heart

God can work with a broken heart. Did you realize that? I mean, we say it all the time. We talk about it in church a lot. God uses broken people, which is fortunate because all of us are broken. But those people with broken hearts have the opportunity to be used in a truly great way.

There’s something about recognizing that you are broken that allows you to let God truly do what He wants to do in your life. I don’t know if it’s because you aren’t hiding. I don’t know if it’s because you’re being honest with God and with yourself and with everyone else. I don’t know. But the humility that comes from understanding how broken we are is something that God can take and make beautiful.

Red, blooming rose in the Rose Garden at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Red, blooming rose in the Rose Garden at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verses are Philippians 2:9-11.

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
    and gave him the name above all other names,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

That one word therefore has a lot riding on it. It really means something like because. So if we really want to understand what these verses are about, we’d better check the verses that come before it. Since I’m doing a study of Philippians right now, I actually blogged on these verses yesterday. But I’ll add them into this text again too.

Philippians 2:5-8 says: “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”

And because He did this, God elevated Him. That’s where our verses for today pick up. Because He chose to be humble, because He chose to have a humble attitude even though He deserved to rule, God raised Him up.

This is the way it works with all of us. If we are willing to live humble lives with humble attitudes, not trying to cover up our brokenness with religion but trusting God to help us through, God will move us from the lowest rung on the ladder to a place where we can make a real difference for Him.

For years, I tried to do things on my own. I’m independent like that. Of course, I believed in Christ. I trusted God. But I had my own ideas about what my life needed to look like. I had my own ideas about where I would go to school, who I would marry, where I would live, what I would do for a living. And I was bound and determined to do things my way. But my life really hasn’t worked out the way I thought it would.

Just being honest this morning, I really thought I’d be married by now. Or at least, I thought I would have gone on a date. And there was a time when that really bothered me because isn’t that what is supposed to happen? Aren’t all good little Christian girls supposed to grow up, get married, have kids? That’s the norm. That’s the plan I had. That’s what I wanted when I was younger. But there came a day when I realized that what I wanted for my life wasn’t necessarily what God wanted, and at that point I had a choice to make. I could either focus on my discontentment in how my life had turned out and forge ahead to clear a path toward the goal I wanted–or I could go along with what God wanted, in spite of the fact that it led me in a different direction than I ever thought I’d go.

I haven’t always made the best decisions in my life, but this time I decided to go with God. And I’m glad I did. He has allowed me to do things I never thought I’d get to do. He has opened doors for me to help others in ways I never could have if I had been married and had children.

But before He could use me the way He wanted, I had to let go of the dreams I had for me. I had to take the broken pieces of my dreams and my heart and trust them to God to fix or throw away or do whatever He wanted to do with them. And because I was willing to let go of those broken pieces, He was able to do something with them, reshape them, repurpose them, and recreate them into something so much better than I even knew how to wish for.

There are still days when I think about what it would be like if I had gone down that road of marriage and family, but I’m not sad that I’m not there. Maybe that path is still in my future. Or maybe not. Either way, I’m not worried about it because God has given me something to do today, and as a single person I can accomplish more for God because I can be totally dedicated to Him. Not saying a married person can’t be totally dedicated to God, but I imagine it’s more difficult with a spouse and children. Now I look at being single as a privilege.

I don’t know where you are today. I don’t know if you’re married or divorced or single or widowed or somewhere between all of those. But what I do know is that God can take a broken heart and make it beautiful again. He can take the unhappiness and discontent that living life for yourself, by yourself inevitably brings and turn it into something wonderful and, satisfying and full. But you’ve got to be humble enough to trust Him. You’ve got to be willing to let go of what you think you deserve or what you think life owes you or what you think God owes you.

If you can do that, you’ll be surprised where you end up, and you’ll be amazed what He gives you the opportunity to do.

 

Because He stooped so low

Today’s passage is Philippians 2:9-11.

 9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
      and gave him the name above all other names,
 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
      in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
      to the glory of God the Father.

Sometimes I like to read the Amplified version alongside the verse of the day because it helps to make some of the word meanings clearer since I don’t speak Greek. This is one of those instances where I think reading the Amplified text really brings out some of what this verse is saying.

9Therefore [because He stooped so low] God has highly exalted Him and has [a]freely bestowed on Him the name that is above every name,

    10That in (at) the name of Jesus every knee [b]should (must) bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

    11And every tongue [[c]frankly and openly] confess and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Therefore [because He stooped so low] is the part that caught my eye this morning. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross amazes me.

If you read a few verses before in the Amplified version, the description of what Christ really did is even more amazing:

 6Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [[b]possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not [c]think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped [d]or retained,

    7But stripped Himself [of all privileges and [e]rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being.

Jesus is God. He’s just as much God as though He had never been a man. I don’t understand how it’s possible, but that’s what the Bible says. So I believe it. 

Jesus didn’t have to die on the cross. He didn’t have to suffer humiliation and torture, but He chose to do it because that was the only way to save us. And it wasn’t just because He loved us so much. Granted, He did. But it wasn’t Jesus’s idea to die that way. It was God’s. God sent Him to the cross because it was part of God’s plan.

And Jesus, even though He was God Himself (I know this is confusing; don’t ask me to explain), had every right to push back. Jesus had every reason to refuse to go, and He would have been justified. But instead He chose to be humble and accepted God’s will no matter how much it was going to hurt.

How many of us are like that truly? How many of us are willing to do what God asks us no matter what it will cost us physically or emotionally? How many of us are that humble?

Most of us are too proud to even worship. Many are too proud to even pray to ask God for help. Most of us think we are so very very important and can’t be bothered with the uncomfortable parts of living a Christian life.

The Bible says here that God exalted Christ because He lowered Himself. God gave Him a name above all names because Jesus let Himself be dragged through the dirt. And when the end comes, everyone will recognize who He is, whether they believed in Him or not. Notice the Amplified Version says that “every knee (must) bow.” When Jesus is revealed in His true glory, people won’t have a choice; they’ll be on their knees whether they intended to be or not.

If we want God to work in our lives and accomplish incredible things, the first step to doing that is backing off and realizing that none of our talents come from us. God is the one who has given us everything we have.

That doesn’t mean groveling on the floor or having an unhealthy view of your self-worth. But it does mean being humble by recognizing that anything good in your life and anything useful in your repertoire of skills came from God and not from anything you’ve done. Maybe you’ve worked hard to develop those skills, but God gave you the strength to do so.

So be humble this morning and let God lift you up in whatever you’re doing today.