Smith Wigglesworth ministered from a broken heart
Paul Keith Davis recently related this anecdote about the great Smith Wigglesworth, apostle of faith.
In 1922 Wigglesworth journeyed to New Zealand for a series of healing campaigns. At the time, he was unknown to New Zealand’s leadership, but with great confidence various pastors rented the Wellington Town Hall to host the meetings. To everyone’s delight, the Lord was wonderfully present in power, bringing healing and salvation to scores. The services were so successful that additional meetings were arranged and each was filled to capacity with God healing the most difficult cases of sickness and disease.
At the conclusion of the campaign one of the host pastors, while walking along the seashore with Wigglesworth, asked what his secret was to walking in demonstrations of God’s power. Wigglesworth responded, “I am sorry you asked me that question, but I will answer it. I am a brokenhearted man. My wife who meant everything to me, died 11 years ago. After the funeral I went back and lay on her grave. I wanted to die there. But God spoke to me and told me to rise up and come away. I told Him if He would give me a double portion of the Spirit—my wife’s and my own—I would go and preach the Gospel. God was gracious to me and answered my request. But I sail the high seas alone. I am a lonely man, and many a time all I can do is to weep and weep.”
A broken and contrite heart was the secret to Wigglesworth’s success with God. It is written in Psalm 51:17, “the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”
As the two men continued walking along New Zealand’s seashore, Wigglesworth emphasized what he carried in God was not to be envied, but instead he envied what the last generation will see. Wigglesworth explained that he had experienced three open visions with the Lord. Two of them were already fulfilled at the time of these meetings in 1922. However, he expressed the third would take place after his death. Wigglesworth explained, “Oh it was amazing! Amazing! I cannot tell God’s secrets, but you will remember what I say—this revival we have had is nothing to what God is yet going to do.”
I find it interesting that such a powerful man in the Spirit would be, at his core, so broken. Smith was extremely direct and plainspoken, and brooked no nonsense. He would send people off the prayer line when he knew they had already received prayer for their healing. Once he actually punched a man several times in order to shake off a tumor. The onlookers were aghast and ready to revolt, but on the third punch the tumor literally dropped to the floor, with the man healed.
Another time Smith was attending a Christmas recital of Handel’s Messiah in a large hall in London. When the choir was done extolling the Hallelujah Chorus, Smith himself exclaimed HALLELUJAH! in a voice that so filled the hall that it made mention in a newspaper music review the next day. This former house plumber was an imposing man in every way.
And yet inside, he was broken. Hosea implores us, ““Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. (Hos 6:1) Sometimes the Lord must allow a great shaking to get our attention. In our brokenness He can minister sanctification of our souls, consecration to Him, and compassion for others, to a depth that can be achieved no other way.
I don’t know the full story of Smith Wigglesworth’s inner life, but his overcoming a broken heart and going on to be so powerful in the Lord gives me encouragement. If he can do it, I can do it, and you can do it too. We have the same Lord, the same Spirit, and a like faith, and the Lord has promised not to give us more than we can bear. Even a broken heart is no match for the imperishable seed that God has implanted in our spirit.
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