Breakthrough After Breakdown

This was my resurrection day. The day when all the pain would be redeemed. The day when I would stand and proclaim to the world what God has done. To release my pain to God’s will, for His use.

Rewind to the previous night. I was on the bathroom floor, pen and journal in hand, crying. Sobbing. Shaking. Certain that everything I was about to do must be a mistake. Certain that I must have heard wrong, must have overestimated myself, must be crazily over-confident. I poured out my heart in that flowery, pink journal as I waged war—lies barraging me, fear and doubts gripping me.

But as Jennifer Renee Watson writes in her book Freedom!, “My most life-changing breakthrough was right after my biggest breakdown.” I think that’s true for a lot of us. As I fought and struggled myself to sleep that night, I eventually found peace in surrendering it to God.

Just a few hours later, I woke up before the crack of dawn. It was resurrection day. Redemption day. It was time for me to rise up out of my brokenness and use it for God’s glory. Brokenness that had literally brought me to my deathbed as I battled chronic illnesses, until God miraculously led me away from it.

Turn the next page in my journal, and you’ll find this: “Today, I stand in God’s victory. Today, I declare victory. Today is my resurrection day. […] I’ve been singing all day. Seriously, the people in the car over in the Whole Foods parking lot looked at me funny. It was wonderful.”

July 23rd, 2018—exactly three years to the day after first getting sick—I published my first book, a book whose purpose was to share all that I’d learned through my pain, to encourage anyone else battling a chronic illness (or three). No, I wasn’t healed. But that day was my resurrection day.

Maybe you need a resurrection day, too. Maybe right now, you find yourself on the bathroom floor, sobbing. Or maybe you’re screaming in the car at the top of your lungs. Or perhaps your smile is plastered on so forcefully it physically hurts. Maybe, like me, you feel a little broken—a lot broken. But girl, you don’t have to stay there. Our God is a Healer—that’s just who He is!

Maybe, like David, we find ourselves crying out, “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” (Psalm 51:7 NIV) We’ve sinned. We’ve been scarred. We’ve been betrayed. We’ve been left behind or forgotten. We’ve been embarrassed and humiliated. We’ve let people down or been let down by people we love. All we have to give God is our brokenness.

The good news is that God uses brokenness, and He heals brokenness.

Things have to die to be resurrected—dreams, hopes, plans, ways of life—but once they die, God’s power can be revealed in awesome glory when he resurrects something no one else could. Writing and publishing a book while chronically ill should have been impossible for me. But by God’s grace, it came to pass. He resurrected a dream I thought was dead. And because it was so obvious that I couldn’t do it on my own, everyone was able to see that it was God. His power was made perfect in my weakness. God uses brokenness.

Yet He also heals brokenness. Psalm 147:3 (NIV) says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Even more, Psalm 34:18 (NIV) says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Maybe right now, you’re breaking down. Maybe you feel brokenhearted and crushed in spirit. But hang on—God is with us in the pain, He will use the pain for good, and He will bind our wounds. Breakthroughs seem to often come right after breakdowns.

Sara Willoughby
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