On Sunday I taught men in the jail, using Psalms 116:5-7 (ESV), about moving from woundedness to life. I challenged them not to settle for mere comfort when confronting hurt, but to embrace life instead.

Gracious is the LORD, and righteous;
   our God is merciful.
The LORD preserves the simple;
   when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest;
   for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.

When hurt and wounded, too often all we can muster is a desire for God’s comfort or soothing presence. Although he’ll sometimes do that, what he really wants is to move us past woundedness into brokenness – that low place where we are willing to surrender to him. Only then can we hope to experience the bountiful life, both in us and around us, that comes from finding and finally doing God’s joyous will.

Many Christians confuse woundedness with brokenness, but they are not the same. Woundedness is hurt and self, while brokenness is surrender and God’s will. The main thing that separates woundedness and brokenness is pride.

Brokenness, as opposed to woundedness, happens when we are finally stripped of our pride – sometimes due to pure exhaustion.

Short of total capitulation from hitting absolute bottom, we typically don’t reach brokenness. Instead, we resist by wrapping our woundedness around us like a cloak of honor. It becomes our old familiar friend and part of our self-sustaining identity. Often, we deceive ourselves into believing that our success at enduring hurt and pain comes from spiritual maturity or strength, when it really comes from numbness and shutting down our heart. Sometimes, we even parade out our “humble” wounds in public as a plea for sympathy and to avoid the changes God wants of us.

Such pride traps us in woundedness.

Pride wants God merely to affirm or sooth us in our pain, while we stay in control. It makes us unwilling to go to the source of the pain, where we hurt the most. That place, however, is where God patiently waits to meet us and heal us – not by merely comforting us, but by fundamentally transforming who we are by changing how we think and what we believe.

We know when we’ve reached brokenness, as opposed to woundedness, when we experience “simple”. Simple happens when we’ve found the core of who God created us to be, with nothing left of our own will to get in the way. At “simple”, we begin discovering who we really are, based on God’s perspective and not our’s, minus the clutter of our own expectations and all of the “ought’s” that we’ve imposed on ourselves and others.

When we get to “simple”, God can begin to remake and transform us into the men and women he uniquely designed us to be.

As I explained in the jail:

  • Only at “simple” can we find the core of who we were created to be…
  • Only at “simple” can we begin to become complete and whole individuals…
  • Only at “simple” can we finally begin to accept God’s will, rather than our own will (however well intended)…
  • Only at “simple” can we discover, through him, the unique qualities and desires he created in us and intends for us…
  • Only at “simple” can we find bountiful life.

Life, however, can be very scary to a hurting person, because life always involves change and hurting people often lack the energy to embrace change.

Getting to life, as intended by God, requires total capitulation and, in our capitulation, total trust that he won’t leave us vulnerable if we meet him at the source of our pain. If we are willing to trust God by meeting him there in brokenness, and then get to “simple” where we can begin to hear and embrace what he wants to say about who we really are – rather than trying to hold onto who we think we are or we think he wants us to be – life will begin springing up in us and around us.

The process of finding life and refilling our emotional wells may take time – often even years – but our souls will find rest as we finally begin experiencing life as God planned it. After all, it usually takes years for our emotional wells to run dry, and it is rare for them to refill overnight.

The choice is ours:  A downward spiral of woundedness producing exhaustion and more hurt, or the renewing spiral of life – as God intended us to live it – which then produces even more life.

I don’t know about you, but I chose – and continue to choose – life.

(c) Copyright 2009, Fulcrum Ministries. All Rights Reserved.

12 responses

  1. So can identify with the pride equals woundedness vs brokenness equals total surrender. This has been my favorite blog thus far! Hits close to home.


  2. Marian —

    Thanks for your comment. Before I posted this newest blog, I circulated a draft to a number of friends. This issue of woundedness is front and center at my church, where we have lots of “walking wounded” people, including some leaders. The responses I received were very interesting.

    Those who had passed from wounded to broken and now were finding new life generally responded with comments about how the blog made them wonder if they still had issues with woundedness. In contrast, those who clearly were still walking in woundedness generally responded with comments saying they were so glad they had finally gotten past woundedness to brokenness.

    I think those contrasting responses showed me that truly broken people are able to examine and deal with wounding — the underlying experience is still real, but the pain has been replaced with peace and rest because they were willing to meet God and hear from him in their place of wounding. They are very transparent to themselves, God and others, and able to deal with the question of woundedness without pride or fear.

    Wounded people, however, tend to think that they have reached brokenness and that sooths them, when in fact they are unable to generally go to the place of pain to meet God there. Thus, the belief that they have reached brokenness, and the soothing balm that provides, is a defense against truly dealing with their woundedness.

    Which then made me wonder if I may still be wounded . . .

    (This will probably kill any comments!)

    — Jim


  3. Of course we can still be, and will be, wounded. That’s why being willing to lay aside our fears and our pride so we can go to the origin of the pain in our lives and meet the Lord there, where is waiting for us, is a continual process and is part of life.

    Just this week I meet with a close friend and confidant so he could help me deal with some deep, deep hurts that were effecting my ability to be the man I needed to be in another, developing relationship. I had to be willing to face and expose the source of those wounds, which meant beeing willing to be transparent, and then let the Lord quietly speak to me his truth in that still small voice that he’s so good at.

    It is not simply a “factual” or “theological” truth that he speaks, but a very personal, loving revelation of how he views the experiences and my resulting subjective beliefs that gave rise to pain. Once we get to the place where we are willing to meet him in our woundedness because we get to broken, and to then hear what he has to say, then the scripture says that his truth will set us free.

    In my own life, and in the many counseling sessions I’ve done over the last year with men and women in deep, deep pain, I have never failed to see the Lord speak his gentle truth when someone is willing to meet him in the source of their pain. Think about that. It’s amazing. God never leaves us or forsakes us when we are willing to meet him at the source of our hurt. Brokenness is essential, however, because it allows us to set aside the fear and the pride that otherwise prevents us from getting to the place where the Lord is patiently waiting to speak to us.

    If we never are wounded, then we are not living. I would never trade away the experiences that caused my wounds because they helped me find and come ever closer to who God wants me to be. Christ “suffered the cross for the joy set before him.” The joy of getting to the place where we can be the authentic person God created us to be is worth the price of admission.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for making me think about my own wounds – compels me back to the cross where I belong.

    I gave a message at our church last year about how the cross is not just a bridge we cross over to get to salvation, to come into relationship with God; the cross is also the place we live existentially, moment by moment. The cross is the intersection point – the place where heaven meets earth and righteousness overcomes sin.

    We should be constantly experiencing the great exchange – passing our guilt, shame, woundedness and hurt to Him and receiving back His grace , righteousness and healing. it’s the only place and the only way to live.


  5. Pride was one of my first key revelations through my transformation. I began to take full credit for everything God was doing in my life (prior to trans.) which in turn blew up my ego. This ultimately led me quickly to destruction again. Safe to say this was the first thing to go my a state of brokeness. I now know who is in control and it’s not me, thank God.

    Love your breakdown between Brokeness and Woundedness. I find this to be very true. Through years of treatment centers and various programs I would only allow certain things to be revealed, so essentially that is as healthy as I got. That small voice inside of me was there telling me “you must go there to be free” but of course I wasn’t willing. So what happened?…found myself back again.

    This time I was in the hands of some trustworthy men and was in a state of desperation and had to act if I wanted to be set free. So I stepped out in faith and faced it head on.

    A very liberating experience for me. It had to be done.


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