Breaking Open, Not Breaking Down
We will all face breaking points, and many times we will splinter and crack. We all know broken hearts and broken relationships intimately. But with Jesus these are the opportunities not to fall down and stay down but to fall and rise differently. To rise with power, with hope, and with purpose. That is the goal. We get to rise, open to a new way of living.
To do that, though, we can’t avoid the breaking. We can’t stuff it down deep under a coping mechanism. We can’t outrun it by moving fast enough. We can’t numb it with another drink or another cynical.. comment. We can’t avoid it by manufacturing drama to gain attention. There’s only one way to thrive in life, and it’s definitely not by shutting down, it’s by remaining open.
Jesus encountered brokenness and, instead of using a supernatural field to hold suffering at bay, he embraced it fully, And he himself broke. But Jesus did it in a way that brought healing, that brought others in, and brought life.
Better still, Jesus invites us to live a healed whole life as those who break open toward God. For Jesus, this isn’t about leading us down a road where we break. He knows the road we are on is broken, so he is leading us to hope, healing, and wholeness.
Remember when we talk about breaking that is headed to a wide-open space that Jesus is preparing for us, where all the broken places are made whole. And so when we break, we break open to Jesus. We break open towards others instead of seeking the tempting allure of isolation. We break open and live life desperate, vulnerable lives that invite others to do the same.
Nehemiah had one of the most notable breakdowns in the Bible. It is found in the book that bears his name in the Old Testament. Nehemiah was living in a very difficult time for his people, the Jews – the people of God . They were in exile, which meant most of the things they held dear had been stripped from them. They had been uprooted from their homes and forced to serve a new king and a new kingdom. They had lost things like family, connections, familiar ways of life, and religious patterns. But like most difficult times, there were some who managed to do okay. Nehemiah was that guy.
In the midst of exile, he was actually prospering. He was prospering externally, at least. He had a good job. He had a prominent position in the kingdom. Sure, the king was not really treating his people well, but the king was treating Nehemiah well. We all have friends like this. While the COVID pandemic was one of the hardest season ever for many people, most of us know one friend who got a new job or house or whose child got into a good college. That was Nehemiah. And even amid all the good things in his life, he broke down too. It turned out the Nehemiah’s external condition did not mirror his internal one. It took Nehemiah’s hearing that his people were suffering in Jerusalem for everything to come apart. Things were going well for Nehemiah but not for the people he loved, and that was a great burden to him.
Nehemiah said this is his book: “when I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven” (1:4). He sat down on the ground and mourned and prayed and he didn’t eat, For some days, he did this. If you see me on the ground for days crying and I’m not eating, you can call it what it is a breakdown.
But the only reason we know of Nehemiah’s account is because he broke open. His mourning and fasting led him closer to God. In fact, everything about Nehemiah’s breakdown involved staying open to God. His heart was broken because he knew there were people who weren’t safe, weren’t well fed, and weren’t happy. He didn’t even his high position as separating him from the condition of others. It broke him, but it broke him open in a way that led to action.
Nehemiah did some amazing things. He rebuilt the walk around Jerusalem. He stood up against dangerous enemies. He restored the people of God back to health and connectivity. But when Nehemiah story started there was so much crying and so much sadness. I think Nehemiah would say, “I could never have done all that, had I not let go of my desire to control it all, had I not given everything to God and resolved to keep going.”
We all have breaking points, breaking moments. Would you choose to break open? To let go? Try opening your hands up right now. As you physically open your hands, think about the things you need to let go of in your heart. Breathe out what you need to let go of to keep going. Breathe in the resolve to keep moving.
To choose hope.
To let go is to choose hope. To keep going when your body and mind say that you can’t go on is to choose hope.
To choose hope is the opposite of losing hope. And we all lose hope sometimes. For mow, let’s just believe together that there is hope. We can let go, we can keep going, because we have reason to hope. Believe that God has a full, good life coming for you. Let hope fill you deep in your being.
What in life has caused you to breakdown?
Did you break open and find hope in Jesus?