Broken Spirit

” . . . spirit had been broken . . . “

“God spoke to Moses and said, ‘I am the Lord I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as Almighty God . . .  I will make you my own people, and I will be your God. You will know that I am the Lord your God when I set you free from slavery in Egypt.   I will bring you to the land that I solemnly promised to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as your own possession. I am the Lord.’  Moses told this to the Israelites, but they would not listen to him, because their spirit had been broken by their cruel slavery.” (Exodus 6:2-9)

Wood is valued as a building material not only for its strength, but also for its resilience and flexibility.  Wood’s strength allows it to be used for buildings, and its flexibility makes for some pretty beautiful canoes and other useful items.  Most of us have worked enough with wood in some capacity to know we can only bend it so far before it loses the ability to mold to a our desires and instead snaps into pieces that no longer serve useful for our project.  I found this tree on a recent walk.  Apparently its ability to sway in the wind had been comprised by too much force.  Maybe other factors like some sort of illness were also involved.  The end result was the push beyond swaying and flexing to breaking.  The tree was destroyed.

We tend to call this scenario our “breaking point.”  Certainly the Israelites in the passage from Exodus had reached their breaking point.  They had been so overwhelmed by their enslavement to the Egyptians they could not even hear the good news that God was about to free them.  They were bent beyond bending to breaking.  They were numb.  They were enshrouded by despair and could not fathom the language of hope.  Their thinking was changed to the point that hope was no longer part of their vocabulary.  They understood words like, fear, pain, hurt, defeat, worthlessness, and despair, but not hope.  The idea of freedom that Moses was describing to the Israelites was as foreign to them as the concept of a wave might be to someone who had never seen an ocean.

Have you ever met someone with a broken spirit who lost the ability to comprehend the language of hope?  I have on several occasions.  Sometimes it’s like speaking English to a person who only understands Italian.  The experience can be somewhat frustrating and scary.  It’s frustrating because normal efforts to explain that hope is possible bounce off the broken one, and scary because one can’t help but wonder what could have happened to cause such a predicament.  Sometimes for one who understands the language of hope it’s difficult to comprehend a world with no hope.  The longer we try to walk with the broken one, the more frustrating, scary, and helpless we can feel.  “Are they right?” we might wonder.  “Is there no hope?  They just seem incapable of grasping the idea.”  That’s often when we want to run.

Running is exactly what was on Moses’s mind that day when he was faced with the hapless, hopeless Israelites who just could not comprehend the language of hope and freedom.  Moses wanted to run, but God kept sending him back with a message of hope.  Eventually the Israelites were able to hear the language of hope and freedom – and follow.  That’s what’s so important for us – to resist the temptation to run, and instead gently walk alongside the broken one until once again they are able to comprehend the language of hope.  Unlike the broken tree in my photo, broken spirits can be mended by God’s healing love we offer as we walk alongside one another.  I pray that in the presence of one who has lost the ability to comprehend hope, God will give me the courage to resist running, and the patience to walk alongside.

Blessings and Peace,


Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church

Cross Lanes, West Virginia

Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit

My other book, “Wednesday Wonderings: Spiritual Journaling Through a Lens” is available at and

Check out my video, “Teens Surviving the Storm”


~ by revgenelson on April 20, 2016.

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