The movie “Breakthrough” was appropriately titled because John Smith and his friends fell through the ice, and John was subsequently submerged under water for 15 minutes and went without a pulse for an entire hour. However, even though the title, “Breakthrough” refers to the breaking of the ice and the drowning of John Smith, almost every character in this real-life story needed and underwent some kind of breakthrough.
John Smith was a self-centered, middle school basketball player with swag. Committed to his own world and way, he was rude to his parents and disinterested in God. He had been adopted from out of the country and struggled with being given up for adoption by his birth mom. To try to deal with his confusion and pain, he lived life his way, and that epic day, he carelessly led his friends out onto the ice. After all, he was invincible. Even when an adult saw the boys and warned them to get off the ice, Smith paid no attention to the warning.
The miracle of his physical resurrection, and it was a resurrection, brought him to a place of faith and humility. He experienced more than physical healing. He had a spiritual and emotional breakthrough, one that has now led him to pursue pastoral ministry when he finishes high school.
Joyce Smith, his mom, was a control freak. She kept anyone at a distance that didn’t see things her way. She took issue with the new pastor of their church. The contemporary music, including some rap, and the pastor’s hairstyle, was all just too much for her. They got off on the wrong foot for sure. Joyce was gruff with the hospital staff and quickly put anyone in their place who didn’t embrace the same level of faith she had. She tried to dictate how her husband should be handling the crisis. She received more than an answer to the prayer she prayed in the emergency room as she stood by her son’s lifeless body. Throughout the first few days of his treatment, in her personal struggle to surrender, she received a breakthrough when she let everything go and trusted God to work out His plan.
Joyce’s husband, Brian, distanced himself from the trauma of the accident by physically distancing himself from John’s hospital room. You get the sense that he had sort of checked out of the parenting piece of the family as it was all Joyce who was giving instruction and discipline in the opening scenes. He and his wife struggled to support each other when they needed it most, but we see a transformation in him during the movie as he inched closer to his son’s bedside and began to express his faith for himself. He and Joyce reconnected in a beautiful way and truly formed a husband and wife team.
Their new pastor, Jason, needed a softer, gentler approach with Joyce and people like her, one he found once his heart connected with the pain of his parishioners during the tragedy of their son’s drowning. The conflict he and Joyce had early on was set aside and replaced with comfort and concern. In an act of humility, he met Joyce where she was. He stayed by John’s bedside and gave Joyce the support she needed to continue to be bold in her faith.
Dr. Garrett, the doctor was an expert in drowning cases, so after John’s heart began to beat, John was transferred to the hospital where Dr. Garrett practiced. His conclusion upon the initial exam was that John wouldn’t make it through the night. He knew what medicine could do, and it couldn’t do what John would need to be done.
Within about three days of the drowning, with a kind of apology for rushing to conclusions, he acknowledged that a miracle had taken place. John’s lungs that had been filled with blood were clear and the cultures revealed no bacteria. His organs that had been failing were perfectly fine, and his brain which had shown signs of neurological devastation, was normal. Just two weeks after John was awakened from a medically induced coma, he left the hospital. What a breakthrough for this doctor who had so much experience and expertise that he had come to rely on his wisdom and ability to predict someone’s future.
The guy who was able to find and pull John out of the water, Tommy Shine, did so because after searching with no success he heard a voice say to him, “Go back.” He thought it was his chief giving the order, but the movie plot revealed none of his team or any other bystander gave the command. Tommy’s conclusion was that God had spoken to him. The only problem with that was that Tommy didn’t believe in God. Faced to consider the reality that God exists and that God prompted him to know where to retrieve John’s body, he had some soul searching to do, perhaps for the first time. What a breakthrough for someone who had never acknowledged the existence of God.
This movie highlighted physical, emotional, relational and spiritual breakthroughs in the lives of the film’s characters all throughout the story. What could be our takeaway today? Take a moment, and center yourself, bowing your head and asking God to help you hear His voice today.
Hear the Apostle Paul’s words from II Corinthians 1 and then chapter 4:
2 Corinthians 1:8-10 8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. 9 Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us…
2 Corinthians 4:7-10 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
Believers, understand that your suffering, your hardship, your trials aren’t random. Did you catch the two verses that were bolded? Paul said, “But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves, but on God, who raises the dead.” He said, “We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”
God has a purpose for allowing suffering and difficulty in our lives. It is to teach us to fully rely on God and to reveal the life of Christ in and through our lives.
How many of you want God to bless you? How many of you want a breakthrough this morning? Let me see your hands? Here’s the thing: We all want to be blessed, but none of us wants to be broken. We all want our prayers answered, but none of us wants to have to realign our will to God’s will. We all want God to put His stamp of approval on our hopes and dreams, so none of us wants to surrender those hopes and dreams so that God can crush and remake them into the dreams that He has for us. My big takeaway from the movie for today was that brokenness is what leads to true breakthrough.
Until we surrender everything to God, until we give Him access to us and give Him freedom to remove from us what doesn’t belong, what offends His holiness, what will get in the way of our destiny, we won’t truly have the breakthroughs in our lives that we want or need.
Brokenness means surrendering our will to God’s will. When we allow God to break us, we are allowing Him to strip us of our self-sufficiency so that we can take on the life of Christ. Listen, God only dwells in two places in power. He is seated in power in a high and holy place, and the Word of God teaches us that He is with and working with the person who is lowly and contrite in spirit.
Isaiah 57:15-1615 For this is what the high and lofty One says– he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. If you want a breakthrough, if you are in a situation that you don’t see a way through, if you can’t take it anymore, whatever “it” is, and you need an answer to your prayer, you are going to need to humble yourself before the Lord. James 4:10, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”
God is with those who are contrite in heart. Say, “contrite.” God’s going to help us this morning. Contrition, you can look up the definition, has an aspect to it that means to grind something into a powder. Contrition has this facet of being pulverized, reduced to nothing. God is near to those who are willing to be pulverized. Understand this morning that our pride could get in the way of a breakthrough in our life. It may need to be pulverized. Our self-sufficiency could be getting in the way of a breakthrough that we desperately need. It may need to be crushed. Why would our pride or our self-sufficiency need to be crushed? Well, why would God give a breakthrough to a proud person? So that they could be more proud of themselves? That wouldn’t make sense? Why would God give a breakthrough to a self-sufficient person? So that they could rely more and more on themselves? That doesn’t make sense. The goal is to get us to rely on Jesus.
No, it is in the crushing, the grinding of our egos, the reduction of our self-importance, the surrender of our gifts and talents, the relinquishing of our earthly dreams, that we receive all God has to give, and until we get this principle of brokenness ingrained in our hearts and minds, we won’t be able to receive the manifold blessings God has to give. In the crushing we are to learn to fully rely on God, and we are to allow Him to deposit the life of Christ into us that others may see it, long for it, and experience it for themselves. I guess what I am suggesting this morning is that God won’t give a breakthrough to unbroken people. If God is going to bless you, He is most assuredly going to break you first.
Pastor and Author Tony Evans uses the illustration of a wild stallion that wants its independence to speak to this principle. A wild stallion doesn’t want to be ridden. It doesn’t want to be told what to do. It doesn’t want to listen to anyone’s commands.
Now, it doesn’t mind the cowboy feeding it and keeping the trough full of water. It doesn’t mind having a place to go in out of the rain. It is glad for a shelter and a place to lie down. “Just don’t get on my back,” bucks the stallion! However, the process of breaking a stallion is the process of the cowboy getting on its back and riding it.
But the stallion doesn’t want to be ridden, and so it bucks and bucks and tries to throw the cowboy off. “Get off my back, Cowboy! Bless me with the food! Bless me with the water! But get off my back!” Regardless, the cowboy gets on the horse’s back and rides the horse,
and sometimes, especially initially, the horse even throws the cowboy off. But if the goal is to break the horse, the cowboy rides the horse until the horse is broken.
How do you know when the horse is broken? It doesn’t lose its strength when it is broken. It doesn’t lose the muscles in its legs when it is broken. It doesn’t lose its God-given identity and uniqueness as a horse when it is broken. No, when it is broken it’s just now a horse under somebody else’s control.
You see, when a horse is not broken and you get on its back it is shaking and bucking, and it is saying, “Leave me alone.” But when the horse is broken the cowboy says, “Whoa” or “Giddy up” the horse complies because the horse is now under the control of another.
Many believers want the blessing. “Feed me God. Water me, God. Give me shelter, God, but stay off of my back. Let me do my own thing. I don’t want to be under Your control, God.” Listen, the life of Christ isn’t deposited into people who want to live their own lives. There is no room for your life and Christ life to dwell in you simultaneously. It has to be one or the other. If you want the breakthrough, if you want the blessing, you have to be willing to be broken. You have to be willing to allow God to expose your pride, to expose your independence, to expose your self-sufficiency and your sin.
Pride says, “I can do it myself.” Pride says, “I don’t need you, God.” If those were true statements, you wouldn’t ever need a breakthrough. You would have it all under control. You would never have a prayer request or a need. But how many of us here this morning need a breakthrough? How many of us have our backs against the wall? How many of us are under pressure? How many of us have had our hearts broken by people in our family or people we thought were our friends? How many of us are struggling with a physical ailment to the point where we are “done” and are done being done? How many of us need a miracle for our marriage? How many of us are struggling to sleep and something’s gotta give? How many people need a financial breakthrough? How many people keep hitting a wall or facing rejection and you need a way forward? Until we are willing to let God have His way in us and are willing to do things His way as He commands, we are going to be the reason our breakthrough won’t come.
But if you are in the place where you don’t think you can take it anymore and you are willing for Jesus to take it over and take you over in the process, you are a candidate for a breakthrough because what you are going through will be used of God to allow the life of Christ to break through in your life!
And when the life of Christ breaks through, you have power, you have victory, you have confidence, you have the hope and future that God has destined for you to possess. What I am suggesting to you today is that your breakthrough is more about Christ breaking through in you than it is about any earthly outcome you could experience.
Paul said, “What I am going through is horrible. I have been under great pressure, even beyond my ability to handle.” He said, “Some days, I don’t even want to live, but this happened so that we might not rely on ourselves, but on God, who raises the dead.” He went on to say in verse 10 that God had delivered him many times and that God would continue to deliver him.
Paul’s confidence wasn’t in his connections. It wasn’t in his influential family of origin who had
been well-known in the religious community. It wasn’t in his success as a church planter. It wasn’t in his ability to sway a crowd with wise or persuasive speech. It was in the power of God which he referred to as the all-surpassing power of God, as he called it, that was at work in him, that was at work in his jar of clay so that people could see it wasn’t him, but God at work.
Do you want God to be at work in your life? Let Him have the steering wheel. Let Him take full control of your pain and suffering. Let Him be the one to provide the way out of your misery. I’ve found that sometimes God uses the trials of life to take us so low that He becomes our only option because He wants to be our only option every time.
Maybe today your breakthrough begins by realizing you need to surrender everything to God. Watch this moment in the movie where Joyce Smith has a true breakthrough.
SHOW SECOND VIDEO
When God has us completely, He can bless us fully, and we can have a breakthrough. Some of us are running from our breakthrough because we are running from being broken by God. In John 12:24 Jesus said, “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” Only when a seed is buried can new life break through. In order to have a breakthrough this morning, what needs to die and be replaced with the life of Christ? God is calling us to brokenness in order to bless us with the breakthroughs that can come no other way. In the breaking there is a breakthrough in the making. Let God have His way in you.