The Problem With Trusting Broken Cisterns

Gwen Smith Blog, Christian Living, Devotions, Encouragement, Faith, Trusting God 15 Comments

‘Even now,’ declares the LORD, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love…’
(Joel 2:12-13)


Jeremiah was just a youngster when he came to know God and began to work for Him as a prophet. He endured year after year of hard times, frustrating people, and complicated disappointments. His message was one that called the people of Jerusalem – God’s chosen people – to turn away from the idols that they had been worshiping and back toward the one, true God.

Let me say it straight: God was miffed at the nation of Israel and He sent Jeremiah to let them know. He had every reason to be angry! He had given the children of Abraham a sacred covenant, a promised future, delivery from oppression, and His tabernacled presence, yet they turned their backs on Him. Continually. They doubted His exclusivity and they set their attentions and affections on things other than God. They worshiped idols made of wood and stone. Powerless and worthless. In Jeremiah 2:13, God said of his people: “They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”

Pastor Greg Laurie describes it this way: “A cistern is a large well or pool carved in a rock. A broken cistern has sprung a leak and can’t hold water. God is saying, “If you go out there to the world and drink from that well, it is not going to satisfy you.”

It sets my mind to wonder.

Why would anyone place her trust in the unstable, un-powerful, unfulfilling things of earth when she can place her trust in a stable, powerful, satisfying God?

Seems like such a no-brainer – yet, don’t you and I do that all the time?

Sure we do.

We dig our own cisterns, broken cisterns, and expect them to satisfy our thirst and bring us contentment. We drink from the broken cisterns of materialism, position, wealth, popularity, stuff, relationships, rules and religion. We have faulty expectations that our kids, spouses and friends are meant to satisfy our heart-needs. The ultimate broken cistern, however, is our pursuit of purpose in life via things of this earth.

We were created to pursue God.

We were created to know God – to be satisfied in Him and Him alone.

To worship Him and Him alone.

Oh, you and I are such a thirsty gaggle of girlfriends, aren’t we? Even as believers, we deal with emptiness and bow to idols other than God. We place our faith in the economy, in our financial situations, in our health, in our employment status, politics, marital status, and our relationships. When they fail or fumble we fall apart … and no wonder! They are all broken cisterns and were never meant to be our source of hope or satisfaction!

Friends, we need to turn away from our broken cisterns and turn toward the springs of living water.

From stagnant waters to the Living Water.

The Bible tells us that confession is the path to the spring of living water. When we eliminate the things that clutter our faith – the broken things we trust in – and place our faith in the resurrection power of Jesus Christ, God’s heart swells with mercy, compassion and grace toward us. He forgives and strengthens us.

Who or what are you trusting in today?

Where are you soul-drinking from: broken cisterns or springs of living water?

When Jeremiah was preparing to take God’s message of repentance to Jerusalem, God spoke confidence and promise to his shaking heart. Let these words speak confidence to your heart today, friend. God’s promise to Jeremiah is valid to you and me when we turn away from the broken cisterns of this world and place our trust in Him. “I am with you and will rescue you, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 1:19b).

Jesus Christ is the Living Water our souls are parched for (John 4:13-14). “Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them” (John 7:37-38).

This was such an important invitation Jesus said it in a LOUD VOICE. Did you catch that? Do you hear it in your heart right now?


Say with the psalmist: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” (Psalm 42:1-2a).

Go to Him today. Confess. Believe. Drink. Be satisfied.


I’m so thirsty for You! Please forgive me for the times that I have drunk from broken cisterns instead of from Your springs of Living Water! Thank You for Your compassionate grace and ever-flowing love. In a world that is constantly changing,
I choose right now to place my trust in You as my unchanging God.
In Jesus’ name, amen



Today we talked about placing our trust in things other than God. Broken cisterns. We all struggle with this to some degree. How has this affected you in the past?

How does it affect you in the present?

In the words of the great philosopher Dr. Phil, “How’s that working for you?” Spend time in prayer about this. Ask God to reveal the broken cisterns you’ve been trying to drink from. Repent of this and commit to a deeper trust-level today. LEAVE A COMMENT or PRAYER on my wall … and take time to encourage and pray for others in this community of friends who post.

LOVE doing life with you!



Comments 15

  1. Forgive me father where I fall short and and putting my happiness on my relationship… help me and strengthen me with faith in TRUSTING YOU ?and keeping my eyes on you!! God first everything follows, and continue prayers for sending my relationship through PRAYER! ?

  2. Thank you for this truth that as women we need to hear every day! God placed th
    desire to be loved in us and that can take us down many pathways. But he intended it to bring us to Him; the one who is perfect love. God help us to receive
    your love first and only then will our cistern be full and then we will know how to love others. Perfect love casts out fear. Amen.

    1. Post
  3. Thank you thank you & thank you, i pray that God in his infinite mercy will forgive us all for trusting and putting our hope in the things of this world rather than in Him the maker of all things. Thanks for the call back

  4. I thank God for the word especially at this time when have been worried about health,family and job.I ask God to for give me for not trusting he is in control.I ask for prayers to remain steadfast in prayer and reading God’s words and apply it in my life and live of others

  5. Dear God,
    HAVE MERCY ON MY SOUL. PLEASE FORGIVE ME FOR DRINKING FROM BROKEN CISTERNS AND TRUSTING, BELIEVING, PROTECTING, PROVIDING AND NOT TRUSTING YOU, LORD! Please Holy Ghost help me to discern those who are broken, destructive, and unchristian in my family, friends and my enemies.

    In Jesus Name,

  6. I’m committed to trusting in God with all my heart too.
    How wonderful it is that we can be confident He’ll never let us down.

  7. I just turned 57 and the changes that have occurred physically for me as a woman are a Struggle! My broken cistern is trusting in and idolizing beauty when God’s calling is to allow Him to create more & more inner beauty that reflects my Savior. I want to lean in closer to Him daily and reject our societies emphasis on the outward. To quote Ann Voskamp “You don’t have to be awesome, just do what He says”.
    I want a heart that searches daily on how to better follow Him not to constantly focus on how to eliminate one more wrinkle or firm that saggy bottom or have fuller lips.

  8. Oh me! I fail so short in prayer and reading the bible. Please pray that I will take time to put these things first in my life. Thank you for your letters. May God bless you!

    1. Bless you sister Carol with a hunger and a thirst that never satisfies……may you have doorways to free time in your day that are filled at his feet…

  9. Author David Brooks said, “We sin when we have our loves out of order.” There are many people, things, places and activities I really love. Every time I put one of those things before God or love those people without gratitude to God for putting them in my life or look around those places without worshipping God for His awesome creation, I get a crack in my cistern. Gwen, thank you for reminding me whose I am.

  10. Thank you so much for the message today. My husband has been off work and I worry about the bills. I know now that God will meet our needs if we trust in him. Thank you for your daily messages, and may God bless you.

  11. In the past when I needed a ego boost or I feel bad I would go to my son Ben and my mom and it seems I would put God in the middle or on bottom…Please pray for me to be filled again with living water so I can have my Joy back.

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