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The Wounded Raise Higher: Broken People’s Potential for Greatness

by Dr. Eitan Bar
7 minutes read

“God only accepts absolute perfection.”1

John MacArthur

Ever since I saw this quote by Pastor John MacArthur, I couldn’t help but think of the implications this statement would have if it were true.

If it were true that God only accepts absolute perfection, it would cast a shadow on His character, portraying Him as a harsh, unyielding, legalistic judge rather than a loving, compassionate, understanding Father. Unlike a human-loving father who embraces his children’s flaws and offers guidance, support, and unconditional love, a God who demands perfection with the threat of eternal torture in fire would seem distant and unapproachable. This would also raise ethical-theological questions, such as why God, if demanding only perfection from us, created us with so many mental, physical, and emotional limitations to begin with. Unlike Him, we are finite, lacking omniscience (we are not all-knowing and all-understanding), and often driven by our fears and emotions. Judging fish for their ability to claim a tree makes very little sense.

MacArthur’s Calvinistic view (based on Calvin’s “TULIP” and the Penal Substitutionary model of Atonement) also undermines the essence of the Father’s loving nature as depicted in the Bible, where His grace, mercy, and readiness to forgive are paramount. Such a view paints God as lacking empathy and understanding, starkly contrasting to a parent who nurtures growth and celebrates progress, however imperfect.

What if God Demands Your Heart, Not Perfection?

I have no idea what kind of father John MacArthur had, but in a religious worldview that revolves around cosmic punishment and a demand for perfection, it is easy to overlook the profound potential lying within the brokenness. However, from a true Christian perspective, the life journey of broken, sinful people holds a unique and powerful narrative that puts God’s character in a completely different light than the “Cosmic Abuser” religions often try to sell us. A truly loving parent never demands absolute perfection—as psychopaths do—but always extends compassion and understanding and encourages growth, change, and learning from mistakes. His discipline is temporary, restorative, and redemptive, not torturous and abusive.

The Bible contains numerous examples of God using sinners, including King David, who committed adultery and murder; Peter, who denied Christ during the crucifixion; and Paul the Apostle, who was once a persecutor of Christians. Rahab, a prostitute in Jericho, and Mary Magdalene, often depicted as a prostitute as well, are also notable examples. Samson’s life was marked by personal failings and sins, as well as the epic and groundbreaking story of the Prodigal Son. These and other examples illustrate the redemptive power of God, who acknowledges our shortcomings and does not shy away from us because of them. This makes the Bible a story of God’s love, grace, and the transformative power of second chances.

This article explores how broken individuals can succeed even more remarkably than those who appear “perfect,” emphasizing that God’s purpose in allowing sin and suffering is to educate, cleanse, purify, and ultimately strengthen us.

God’s Love in Our Brokenness

The foundation of understanding brokenness from a Christian perspective begins with recognizing the depth of God’s love. The Bible is replete with examples of God’s unwavering love for humanity despite our flaws and failures. In Romans 5:8, we read, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This profound truth reveals that God’s reaction to sin was punishment and destruction and that God’s love is not contingent upon our perfection but is extended to us in our most broken state. God’s love is the strongest initiator and greatest producer of change and growth.

God’s love is not a distant, abstract concept but an intimate and transformative force. It is a love that meets us in our brokenness and offers healing and restoration. In Psalm 34:18, we are reminded, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” God’s nearness to the brokenhearted is a testament to His desire to lift us up, not in spite of our brokenness but because of it.

The Everlasting Hope in the God of Second Chances

One of the most compelling aspects of the Christian faith is the belief in a God of second chances. Throughout the Bible, we encounter individuals who, despite their failures, were given opportunities to start anew.

These stories are not just historical accounts; they are living testimonies of God’s grace. They illustrate that failure is not final and that God’s purposes can still be fulfilled through our lives, no matter how broken we may feel. In Lamentations 3:22-23, we find hope in these words: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Each new day brings with it the possibility of a fresh start, a new beginning, and an opportunity for God to work through our brokenness.

Jesus’ command to forgive “seventy-seven times” (symbolizing an endless capacity for forgiveness) profoundly underscores this belief. Found in Matthew 18:22, this directive is not just about maintaining interpersonal relationships but also forms a cornerstone for healing in a broken world. It teaches that there should always be room for forgiveness, offering hope and a way forward, no matter how many times we or others might stumble. This principle ensures that hope is never lost and that each individual always has the potential for redemption and transformation, reinforcing the transformative power of relentless grace in our lives.

Grace: The Catalyst for Transformation

Grace is the cornerstone of the Christian faith, but you can’t experience grace unless you are broken. “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” (Luke 5:31). Therefore, grace is particularly potent in the lives of broken individuals. Grace is not merely unmerited favor; it is the empowering presence of God that enables us to become what He has created us to be. The Apostle Paul, who referred to himself as the “chief of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15), experienced this grace firsthand. Despite his past of persecuting Christians, Paul’s encounter with Jesus transformed him into one of the most influential apostles.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul recounts God’s words to him: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” This paradoxical statement reveals a profound truth: our weaknesses and brokenness are the very spaces where God’s grace can operate most powerfully. It is in our vulnerability that His strength is most evident, and it is through our brokenness that His grace can shine most brightly.

God’s Tools for Redemption and Purification

Understanding God’s wrath and judgment is crucial to comprehending how brokenness can lead to success. Unlike human anger, God’s wrath is not capricious or vengeful; it is purposeful and redemptive. The purpose of God’s judgment is not to destroy but to purify and refine. Hebrews 12:6 reads, “The Lord disciplines those he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” God’s discipline is a manifestation of His love, intended to bring about growth and maturity in our lives.

Sin and brokenness, while painful, are opportunities for God to work in us. The process of purification may be uncomfortable, but it is necessary for our transformation. Malachi 3:3 uses the metaphor of a refiner’s fire: “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver.” Just as precious metals are purified through intense heat, so too are we refined through the trials and tribulations we face.

The Strength of the Broken

Broken people often develop qualities that those who have never experienced deep pain may lack. Empathy, resilience, and humility are forged in the fires of brokenness. These qualities are not just desirable; they are essential for true growth. In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, Paul writes, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” Our brokenness equips us to be vessels of God’s comfort and grace to others.

Furthermore, brokenness fosters a dependence on God that is crucial for spiritual growth. In our weakest moments, where all we have left is faith, we have no choice but to learn to rely on God’s strength. This dependency cultivates a deeper relationship with God and a more profound understanding of His character. As we, in our brokenness, lean into His strength, we find that we can accomplish far more than we ever could on our own back when we thought we were reaching perfection.

Success Redefined

The world often measures success by external achievements—wealth, status, and power. However, from a Christian perspective, true success is measured by our walk of faith and conformity to Christ’s image. True success is found in a life that trusts and honors God and reflects His love and grace to others who need it. Through their experiences, broken people often have a clearer understanding of what truly matters. They develop greater empathy and appreciation for life, recognizing that life is not about accumulating accolades but about being faithful stewards of the grace they have received. Their brokenness becomes a platform for God’s glory, as their weakness makes His strength known.

Conclusion: Rising Higher Through Brokenness

To those who feel broken and defeated, know that your journey is far from over. No matter how badly you’ve messed up, God’s love, grace, and redemption are powerful enough to transform your life. Your failures do not define you; instead, they are opportunities for God’s purposes to shine through you. In your brokenness, God sees the potential for growth, purification, and profound spiritual success that goes beyond human strength.

Embrace your brokenness and use your faith to lean into God’s grace, for it is in these moments that your true potential is revealed. Your life can become a living testament to a God who loves you unconditionally, offers endless second chances, and empowers you to rise above your past. Remember, in the hands of our loving Creator, you are never discarded. Instead, you are lifted higher, radiating the brilliance of His transformative love. You are not alone, and your story of redemption can inspire hope and strength in others who are—or will be—also on their path to healing.

For a more in-depth exploration of this topic, please consider reading my newly published book:
God as Father: Unveiling God’s Love for Sinners, Outcasts, Legalists and Jerks Through the Prodigal Son.” 

Prodigal Son Parable Jewish Perspective
The Prodigal Son Parable from a Jewish Perspective
  1. https://faithgateway.com/blogs/christian-books/no-merit-of-my-own-righteousness ↩︎

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Dr. Eitan Bar
Author, Theologian, Activist