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The Broken Cistern Syndromne
By J.R. Ensey
Jeremiah wept bitterly. His people were destined to endure a sixth-century B.C. holocaust. And it was all so needless, so unnecessary. His eyes became a fountain of tears as he gave us a first-hand account of the Babylonian captivity and the events leading up to it.

Why the weeping? Jeremiah was so in tune with the heart of God that he felt exactly what the Lord felt: a deep sadness because of Israel’s pride (13:17), their backslidings (5:6), their lost state of holiness (2:3), their nonchalance (Lamentations 1:12), and their judgments (Lamentations 2:11). “This is why I weep and my eyes overflow with tears. No-one is near to comfort me, no-one to restore my spirit. My children are destitute because the enemy has prevailed. Zion stretches out her hands, but there is no-one to comfort her (Lamentations 2:16,17 NIV).

The saddest words of his prophecy are easily applicable to our own time: “My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13). Comfort, help, healing, and deliverance were available, but Israel put her trust in that which had no efficacy. “Broken cisterns” was God’s way of saying that the people had turned from Him—the “fountain of living waters”—to worthless sources for their sustenance.

The Broken Cistern Syndrome is marked by disappointment: the man-hewn basins soon reveal their emptiness. There is no comforting coolness, no refreshing, no restoration. How much like the experience of those who turn to the humanism of psychology but find no fulfillment, no lasting relief, no sure deliverance. God is still grieved and disappointed today with our transference of trust from Him to the psychological way when seeking spiritual help. The rush to the psychotherapist’s couch and to the psychotropic drugs for relief is tantamount to simple idolatry—trusting in gods who cannot deliver, in theories that only confuse, and in drugs that sedate and addict.

Broken lives need more than broken cisterns. They need the healing and wholeness offered by our Lord. Israel could find no comforter where they were looking, but Jesus promised His disciples: “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you” (John 14:18). He has kept that promise. With Him indwelling us, our innermost being becomes “rivers of living water” (John 7:38). Psychology is a “dead sea,” but the new birth is “a new and living way” (Hebrews 10:20).

The psychological way is to undergo lengthy and expensive “therapy,” and then endure lifelong “recovery” status. The new birth experience proclaims, however, that “such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (I Corinthians 6:11). As Brother J. T. Pugh once said, “Nothing saves like salvation.”

Steve Carrier, an apostolic writer and publisher, shares this synopsis of his experience:

I personally suffered from chronic acute depression, and was clinically and medically treated. When I received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, all depression was gone. It ceased just like my desire for alcohol and drugs. To conclude that Holy Ghost-filled believers, with a clear channel between themselves and their Creator, with no sin in their lives, can suffer from soul-sickness that can only be treated by a carnal, worldly shaman is ludicrous.

Like Jeremiah’s broken cisterns, the psychological way failed for Brother Carrier and the sister whose testimony appears elsewhere in this publication. Such reports are not atypical. Many thousands of others, including some who were raised in a Pentecostal environment, have suffered a similar fate.

The psychology/psychiatry industry is driven by power and greed. They invent “disorders” so they can “treat” them. They call sins “diseases” to force their way into the medical model for insurance benefits. They manufacture victims so they can “liberate” them. But their “treatments” can produce false memories, suicidal feelings, and warped minds. Many families have been torn asunder by their therapies. The psychologist’s couch is no place for a Christian. The cross, not the couch, is the source of our hope. Psychology seeks to treat the symptoms; the cross addresses the real cause of man’s problems.

Dr. Tana Dineen, formerly a psychologist serving as treatment director of a large psychiatric facility in Ontario, and now an outspoken critic of the industry, has said,

"Those psychologists who claim to know the answers are rarely challenged as they go about rewriting private memories, playing on emotions, dictating how events are to be experienced, and casting people into victim roles. Claiming to be helping people, they are making them dependent, propping them up, using them as pawns, and profiting from them.”1

Repentance works, baptism works, the Holy Ghost works, sanctification works. These experiences are clear, refreshing—and drinkable—“fountains of living water,” filling and renewing day by day (II Corinthians 4:16). Jesus said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink...and he shall never thirst [again]” (John 7:37; 4:14). By contrast, the leaking scum-ponds of humanism are laden with spiritual bacteria. They consistently produce testimonies like the woman with the issue of blood who “had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse” (Mark 5:26). The broken cisterns of psychology hold forth no lasting hope or bright future. By contrast, through Jeremiah God said to Israel, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (29:11 NIV).

The psalmist expressed a sound philosophy: “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7). Shouldn’t that also be our own commitment? Shun the stagnant cisterns of the world and “trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding; in all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5,6).

The Broken Cistern Syndrome is the world’s lot; living waters are enjoyed by apostolic believers!

1. Tana Dineen, Manufacturing Victims (Toronto: RDM Publishing Co., 1998), p. 13.

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