He Heals the Brokenhearted

Last night I awoke at 3:30 and couldn’t go back to sleep. Rather than just lying there frustrated, I began to pray for a family that has just lost a loved one, asking God to comfort their grieving hearts. Then I thought of two students in our fellowship whose fathers had deserted the family for another woman. I prayed that the Lord would heal their broken hearts. After that, one person after another came to my mind- children of divorces; neglected wives and husbands; spouses locked in apparently irresolvable conflicts; young adults struggling with the legacy of tension-filled childhood homes – they are all, in one way or another, broken-hearted. My thoughts then started to probe the causes of the broken heart. It seems that almost always grief for a major loss has dealt the blow. Either we have lost something very precious to us – a loved one, a valued relationship, a job or career, for example; or we have suffered crushing disappointment over failure to attain something or someone that we consider essential to our happiness – such as a spouse, or children, or a job; or a happy marriage, healthy and happy children, success in our work. Of course, these losses should occasion pain for any normal person. We live in this world, after all, and we have feelings that reflect our creation in the image of God as well as our participation in a universe that lies under the influence of Satan and the judgment of God. Probing deeper, however, I pondered another source of our sorrow: We have placed our hopes for happiness too much on things of this world. We have not made knowing God our main purpose in life. We have not, in short, loved the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength (see Mark 12:28-31). Instead, we have invested too much of our expectations on people who are both finite and fallen, and on things which, being both created and corrupted, will of necessity fail us. We have forsaken the fountain of living waters and made for ourselves cisterns which were broken from the beginning. To change the metaphor, we have deserted God our only true Husband and committed adultery with false and empty idols. This is all familiar stuff to Christians, but then my mind took a sudden and unexpected turn. Certain passages in the Bible speak of God’s response to the unfaithfulness of His creatures, whom He made for fellowship with Himself. The LORD was grieved by the violent and wicked generation of Noah (Genesis 6:6). The rebellion of Israel “grieved His Holy Spirit” (Isaiah 63:10). Bitter wrangling among Christians will also grieve the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). Finally, consider this stunning statement by Yahweh from Ezekiel 6:9: “I was hurt by their adulterous hearts.” God is personally hurt when we turn from Him to seek life from that which He has made, rather than from our Maker. So, what did He do? Just stand idly by, wallowing in anger and sadness? NO! He sent His only-begotten Son, the one whom He loved, to die for us upon the Cross, that we might be forgiven and restored to friendship with Him. Now, cover your face and consider the unutterable agony of that awful day when God the Father poured out all His holy wrath upon His innocent and only Son. We cannot fathom the horrible pain of Jesus as He suffered the torture of men and the anger of God. But can we understand, either, what the Father must have “felt” like then? We must not imagine that His emotions are like ours, or that He can be utterly undone by grief, like us. He is always a serene Sovereign, secure in the assured salvation of His elect and the vindication of His justice. But neither must we see Him as Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover, who never “feels” pain. We are in the dark here, like those around the Cross when the light of the sun was turned off while this terrible transaction was enacted. Was it all over when Jesus died? In a sense, Yes, for He had finished the work of atonement. He does not need to die again for our redemption. But in another sense, No, because Jesus died for us, that we “having died to sin, might live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24 ). What does that mean? Ascended on high, Jesus pours out His Spirit upon all who truly trust in Him. That same Spirit gives us a new heart – a new heart! – that we might love the Lord with all we are and all we have (see Hebrews 8:8-12; 10:15-22). In other words, God has made it possible for us now to return His love for us, and so fulfill the purpose for which He made us in the beginning. In the process, He comforts us in our earthly losses, for we know that He knows, and that He has prepared for us a place and a time when all our tears will be wiped away. Then both He and we shall enjoy a mutual love like that between the Father and Son from all eternity (John 17:26), and our hearts – ours and His – will be filled with a happiness beyond imagining. Then His grief and ours will be forgotten forever. No more broken hearts! Friends, will you bow with me today in wonder and admiration for the God who heals our hearts by first breaking His own?