I think it is necessary to preface this by familiarizing you with the meaning behind the words which I have chosen to entitle this piece. First, ‘disheartened’ in the sense to which I will refer to it, simply means to be broken in sinful defeat. We’re talking about a singular moment of being broken. You know what I’m talking about, it’s the sit-down-in-the shower-for-thirty-minutes-and-let-the-running-water-wash-your-tears-down-the-drain kind of moment. Secondly, ‘Integrity’, in the same sense, means to be upheld in a state of completeness. Imagine a climbing rope. If you’re repelling down the face of a mountain, you’re going to want the integrity of the rope to be upheld the whole trip down or it’s not going to end well for you. All in all, the explanation of the title’s definition could have altogether been avoided by simply entitling this, “Being Upheld in a State of Sinful Brokenness.” However, the one it has been given is a little more aesthetically pleasing, so we’ll keep it as is.
In an attempt to avoid the Christian-cliché, I want to note my intentions for the remainder of this reading. I am not going to implore one to be without sin, nor am I going to shame Christian’s for their hypocrisy in their sin. Instead, the intention I have is to aid one in the understanding of his or her own sinful brokenness and, more importantly, in the realization that being broken is okay. Whether the sin in our lives is acute or chronic, we have an insurmountable wealth of worth. Difficult as it may be, it is entirely possible to stand without bearing the weight of the sin that inhibits us from our fullest capacity in Christ.
Our affinity for sin is the causation of the fall of man. It is entirely unavoidable, yet we spend our lives ineffectually striving to avoid it. It is a continuous pattern of trying and failing and falling into brokenness. Or, at the very least this has been my own experience. The moment of self-realization that one has regarding the extent of his or her shortcomings is disheartening beyond explanation (the sitting in the shower moment). If only I had words to quantify the emotional and spiritual anguish which is felt following this epiphany. It is a matter that one could only empathize with if he or she had truly stood beneath the revelation of his or her sins. (If you have never had this epiphany I encourage you to ask God to reveal your sins to you. He will be faithful to do this).
Our created existential purpose was given to us exclusively by and for the creator. He commanded us to be light in the darkness and to make disciples of every tribe, tongue, and nation. However, it is in our inherent nature to oppose our given purpose with exuberance and vitality. We are so saturated in sin that it seems we are wholly unworthy of this purpose; thus it seems we are incapable of doing the work which has been set before us.
How can someone so saturated in this sin be useful for the purpose which we have been created for? We are literally called, by God, to make disciples of non-believers (the great commission). But, what appeal is there for non-believers to buy into a God whose followers are insensitive? What appeal is there for non-believers to buy into a God whose followers are full of complaints; whose followers are argumentative, angry, emotionally abusive, disheartened? How can someone so saturated in this sin be useful or capable or of any worth at all?
Let me take a moment to clarify that we are in fact unworthy and incapable of doing the work of the Lord. Contrarily, through the death of Christ on the cross and the spirit who resides in us we are declared both worthy and capable to do the work of the Lord.
Everything to this point essentially sums to assert that we are a broken and fallen people in a broken and fallen world. It is so easy to succumb to the lie that tells us that we are alone in sin and unusable by God. In that, a feeling of worthlessness, despair, fear, and loneliness can overcome us. And in this moment of innocent ignorance we become truly disheartened.
We have looked exclusively at what it means to be broken. We have established that we are considered to have a disheartened heart when we truthfully examine our hearts and find it to be ridiculed with folly. When we are broken for the sin in our lives and full to the brim of doubt in our worth in Christ, this is when our heart is disheartened. Reaching this point is a beautiful thing, friends. This is the point where we get to choose our next steps. We can either remain in this pit of pain and brokenness or we can vow to uphold ourselves in the integrity of an upright heart.
One maintains integrity in this state of being disheartened only when he or she can acknowledge in understanding that it is our inherent nature as human beings to be overtaken by immorality and wrongdoing. We are inevitably going to fall into sin and God knows this as such. If God knows this as such, be encouraged and join with him in understanding it to be so. In fact, be boundlessly encouraged because God only uses people who are broken in sin. He has purposefully chosen to use us regardless of our brokenness. God loves us deeply with due regard and without hesitation.
The best way I know how to maintain integrity comes from an overarching theme in the book of Judges. I know- the Old Testament. Is that even relevant to modern day believers? Yes, let me explain. There’s a pattern that the people of Israel fall into in Judges. They start off great, serving the Lord with wholehearted devotion. The next phase of the cycle is when they fall into sin and idolatry and, in God’s wrath, are enslaved by foreign invaders. Next, they realize their brokenness and cry out to the Lord for forgiveness and help. They then seek a judge (a ruler) and God delivers one to them. Israel repents of their sins and are rescued from their enemies. And finally, the people of Israel return to serving and loving God.
The cycle of sin, brokenness, forgiveness, and love in our lives is not so different than what the Israelites experienced. We serve God in wholehearted devotion; we go to church, do our quiet times, and love people. The next step in our cycle is falling into sin. Falling into sin looks different for everyone, but no one can escape this portion of the cycle- it’s what makes us human. The next step for us is breakdown (This is the sit-down-in-the shower-for-thirty-minutes-and-let-the-running-water-wash-your-tears-down-the-drain moment). BUT it doesn’t have to end here. It can end here if we choose to wallow in lieu of our sins. Fortunately, we have the conviction of the Holy Spirit who guides our hearts into realization of our need for a savior. This leads us to the final steps in our cycle of sin and forgiveness. We seek deliverance- through wise counsel, a lot of prayer, and maybe even fasting. When we do this, we return to serving God in wholehearted devotion.
Wait, so why is being broken okay, then? Because if we weren’t broken, there wouldn’t be a need for a savior. If we didn’t have that breakdown moment and the following breakdown moments and crappy days of worthlessness and hurt, we wouldn’t need to cry out to the Lord in humble submission. Be broken, friend. Cry, lament, wear a sackcloth, beg for pardon, fast, pray, seek counsel. It’s in this moment of humble brokenness that the Lord will deliver us from our enemies.
I’ll go back to my previous claim: It is possible to stand without bearing the weight of the sin that inhibits us from our fullest capacity in Christ. The first step in truly reaching our fullest capacity in Christ is to realize our brokenness. If you are living with a totally disheartened heart in this season of life, then you are standing right where I am standing; broken, humbled, and hurting at the feet of the cross. Be disheartened but be upheld and encouraged because the next step in the cycle is forgiveness and deliverance- if only you would let Jesus work in your heart. Be upheld and encouraged despite being broken in sin. Better yet, maintain integrity of your disheartened heart.
“I shall praise you in the integrity of my heart when I have learned the judgments of your righteousness.” Psalm 119:7 ABPE