Bible Question:

Please could you explain to me what brokenness is? Can this make a difference in our walk with God?

Bible Answer:

Brokenness describes a person who is extremely discouraged and unhappy. Often the person feels crushed, and life seems bitter. Psalm 34:18 describes the brokenhearted and crushed person.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (NASB) Psalm 34:18

The Bad

But is it good to be brokenhearted, to be filled with brokenness? The answer is found Psalm 34:18 and in the next verse.

My servants will sing out of the joy of their hearts, but you will cry out from anguish of heart and wail in brokenness of spirit. (NASB) Isaiah 65:14

Brokenness in this verse is the result of God’s judgment. Brokenness can be bad.

The Good

But brokenness can be good if it causes a person to repent of some pattern of sin, a habitual sin, or a serious sin. In 1 Cor. 5:2-8, the Apostle Paul had to rebuke the Corinthians because they had allowed a sinful situation to exist in their church. The church had sinned because they had accepted the individuals who were sinning, said nothing to them, and done nothing. After Paul wrote the letter to them, they responded; and they did not allow the individual to meet with them. The individual responded and repented, but the people in the church did not accept him back and love him after he had repented. So Paul wrote another letter and said this,

For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not that you should be made sorrowful, but that you might know the love which I have especially for you. But if any has caused sorrow, he has caused sorrow not to me, but in some degree — in order not to say too much — to all of you. Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority, so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, lest somehow such a one be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. (NASB) 2 Corinthians 2:4-8

Paul was concerned that the individual might have had too much sorrow. Paul was concerned that he would be brokenhearted, that he would be overwhelmed with brokenness. Sorrow or brokenness is good when it leads a person to repent over sin (2 Cor. 7:8-9), but it is not good for brokenness to continue.

Brokenness over sin is good. God has placed in our conscience a nagging voice that tells us that we did wrong when we sin (Rom. 2:15), and the Holy Spirit brings conviction (John 16:8-11). The true Christian is one who is trusting Jesus to forgive his/her sins. They are completely forgiven – forever. But he/she will also be broken over each new sin, even though that sin is already forgiven. God wants us to admit that we still sin, and when we admit or confess that sin, our relationship with Him is restored (1 John 1:9).


Jesus came to forgive our sins, and to give us peace, and joy (John 14:27; 15:11; 16:20) and not brokenness. The result of being filled with the Holy Spirit is anything but brokenness. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, peace, and joy (Gal. 5:22-23), and not misery. Jesus came to give us peace and joy, and sin brings pain and brokenness. Thank you, Jesus for forgiving us and giving us joy and peace!

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