A Broken Spirit

It sometimes takes something terrible, tragic or traumatic to bring us to our senses, to remind us of how we all-to-often fail and need God as our Guide. For Samson, it was the loss of everything, including his eyes, to realize that God had blessed him with purpose and he had failed (Judges 16:28-30). For the prodigal son, it was a job that would shame any Jew – feeding pigs (Luke 15:17). For Peter, it was a fleeting glance that must have lasted an eternity, for “the Lord turned and looked at Peter… So Peter went out, and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:61a, 62). One thing is certain, there are mistakes we make where the burden of being discovered is the least of our problems.

It is curious how often we miss opportunities to make things right, search for solutions or repair a breech until the walls fall in and carnage ensues. One might wonder why we do not see more quickly the love in God’s patience, waiting for us to come to ourselves. Nevertheless, you can “be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23) and it is at this point that the distinction between a Peter and a Judas is bound up in how we respond to uncovered sin?

David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22) but even one so dear to the Divine was still a victim of sin’s ugly wounds. His Bathsheba incident was brought to his attention by the Prophet Nathan and David crumbled, hearing the words, “Thou art the man” (2 Samuel 12:7, KJV). His Fifty-First Psalm is hard to read, and it evokes emotions of panic and desperation; perhaps, for many an honest but erring Christian, it hits way too close to home. What can a child of God do?

In his pleading for mercy, David disclosed inspiration and hope for quandaries with consequences that appear hopeless. “For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:16-17).

Many mistakes create catastrophes that cannot be corrected. Nevertheless, what will redeem us is not in we can do or give or say, but in who we can become. Only a complete and comprehensive submission to God, in spite of the consequences of our sin (2 Samuel 12:10), will renew and repair a right relationship with God; and it begins and ends at the heart level. Anything less is insufficient, anything else is artificial; only a broken spirit will suffice.

“But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth” (Psalm 86:15).

Jeff Sweeten