The death of someone close to us brings a broken heart and a broken spirit. There are no braggarts at a funeral–no loud boasters in the “house of mourning.”
I thought of this at Lindsay Stout’s funeral. She was my student, just beginning her senior year. She died in a one car crash about three years ago now. I remember that she was just lying there in front of the church, pale and joyless.
Her mother wanted me to speak that day. “You were her favorite teacher. She talked about you all the time.” But it was difficult to look at Lindsay that morning.
I was broken when I rose to speak. I told them how blessed I was to have spent some 800 hours with her in the classroom. Three years of Spanish, two years of English. I read her last essay that she had written and a poem that I received in a dream about her the night before. In the poem I re-assured them that we would all see her again at the resurrection.
Death Brings Brokenness and Humility
We were all broken that day. Death has a way of doing that. It brings humility, compassion, and mercy to the heart.
How does death do this? The Spirit of God uses the dead body to speak to us of our own mortality and the futility of this earthly existence. In this environment, we are humbled, for we know that we cannot say to our own bodies, “Live on forever,” and they obey us.
It is at this very moment of humbleness that God can enter and be close to those who are brokenhearted. It is just a shame that it takes the death of someone close to us to get “close to God.”
The scripture says, “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit” (Psm 34: 18). God is near them. He can approach us when our stiff pride is wilted. The reason that it “is better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of mirth” is because hearts in mourning are broken hearts, and God is near to them. The invisible Spirit of God is palpable to those with a broken heart.
Do we have to literally have someone close to us die in order to get a broken heart and thus be close to God? No, for He has provided a better way for this to happen. We can carry around in our hearts “the dying of the Lord Jesus” and let His physical death break our hearts and spirits. This is how we “show forth His death till He come.”
Paul wrote that “we are delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake that the life also of Him might be made manifest in our mortal flesh” (2 Cor 4: 11). We think on the Savior willingly giving up his earthly life for us and allow His death to break us, preparing a place for Him to enter. “Death works in us” [bringing God’s presence], but life in you [His presence in us gives His life unto others around us]” (v. 12).
“The Sacrifices of God…Broken Spirit, Contrite Heart”
This brokenness (through Christ’s death) becomes the only sacrifice that God will accept. It is only our broken heart that shows Him our sincerity. A broken spirit is the only sacrifice we can make to Him that He will receive.
Everything else that we could offer Him, He already owns–money, houses, cattle. For “the earth is the LORD’S and the fullness thereof.” What He wants is our broken heart because He wants to be able to come down and dwell in us and be with us more fully. But first, somebody has got to get broken to provide the environment for His visit.
Yes, our bodies are the potential temple of the Spirit. But He will only come to dwell in us if we are humble and broken. Kenneth Wayne Hancock
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