One of my girls emailed me this week with a sort of theology question. She had attended a youth conference where the speaker told them that if they didn’t willingly chase God, He would “break their hands.” She was confused, and rightfully so.
As I responded to her, I actually felt squeamish as I felt my hands typing. Break my hands? Hands are filled with nerve endings. They are tender. They create art and communicate words and they bring life to others. The imagery of God breaking my hands hurts me. I am sad for the students at that convention, with a mental picture of a God who would grasp their hands and squeeze mercilessly, crushing bone and leaving a mangled mess.
To break before the Lord is not a painful breaking that leaves the recipient gasping for air and in immense pain. I have been broken. To be broken is to be cleansed. It is painful, yes, but in a way of having something removed that should not have been there. To be broken by the Lord is to come home – it is a cleansing cry, like letting yourself melt into your father and cry your heart out.
When we are running from the Lord, or choosing to live outside the covering of His presence, we make decisions that leave our lives in a mess. But to assign painful things that happen in life to God “breaking our hands” – is incorrect. Pain happens regardless. Loved ones die. Sickness happens. Things occur that we cannot assign to reason or fairness. To say that painful things happening is God ‘breaking our hands’ is not right, because painful things will happen either way. The difference is having God there to HOLD our hands. Not break them.
I co-wrote a song once in which there was a plea that said, “I’ve emptied my hands so I can take your hands – break me Jesus – break me Jesus…” This is a picture of brokenness. Not God crushing our hands and mangling us, but standing in front of us, ever present, patiently waiting for us to willingly displace what is in our hands in order to grasp His. And that clutching of His hands with our own comes from trust. Trust that the Hands that hung stars and parted seas and gave and took life – will gently hold our own.
There is a reason that brokenness before the Lord is something we desire. It is beautiful. It is renewing. It is not something we should fear, but something we should daily seek.