I’m twenty-three and single. I’ve never dated, which means I’ve never had to go through a break-up. So, what could I possibly know about being broken-hearted? I might not have experienced the kind of broken heart that comes from the fallout of a romantic relationship that has ended. But I can empathise. I can imagine what and how you might be feeling. My heart has been broken before. Sometimes nothing more than a small crack or a chip to the surface, and other times when it feels like someone has taken my heart and smashed it to the floor…and then picked it up, and done it again, just in case it wasn’t broken enough the first time.
You see, broken hearts don’t just come from a failed romantic relationship. There have been times my heart has been broken when a friend didn’t turn out to be the friend I thought they were. When I couldn’t face going to school because I felt alone and unwanted. When my family moved from our hometown, away from our family and friends, to a place that was unfamiliar. When supposed friends mistreated my sister. When my Great-Grandmother died. When I reached an age when I realised for the first time that not everyone on this earth, and sometimes not everyone in my wider family, loved and followed God. When disgruntled church-goers thought it okay to talk hatefully toward my Dad, in earshot of his wife and children. When I became old enough to realise that not every church congregation member was a nice church congregation member, and that not every church family was a happy church family. Broken-hearts come in all shapes and sizes. Some heal easier than others.
I also have the capability to cause hurt and heart break. By not treating my parents well. By not being a loving sister. By not being a good friend. By not giving proper thought to the impact my actions and words could have on others, being careless with my words. By being determined to follow my own way instead of God’s way.
But thank goodness that we don’t have to fix them alone, or to even be the ones to fix them at all! In all honestly, I don’t know how well a job I’d do if I had to fix my own. The Bible says, “The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18, NIV) and that “He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3, NIV). We have a God who not only KNOWS about our broken hearts, but CARES about our broken hearts! And He knows how to mend them – we just have to let Him. We have to surrender our hurt hearts to His care. The Bible instructs us to “wait on the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage” (Psalm 27:14, ESV). Did you pick up on that? When we take our hearts to the Lord, God takes our broken hearts and fills them with the courage to get through the pain that weighs them down.
The Psalms say, “when the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul” (Psalm 94:19, ESV). See, God is the Great Comforter. If there was a prize for comforting, you can be sure He’d win every time. Paul calls Him “the God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3, ESV). God knows how to comfort us better than anyone else because He Himself knows what it is to be broken hearted. The Bible records that there was a time that “the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart” (Genesis 6:6, NASB). From the beginnings of the earth and still to this day, humans have continually broken the heart of God. Imagine what that must feel like. To see the very beings that you created, that you knew before their birth, that you spent time perfecting and creating and knitting together in the womb, forget you. His creation continues to rebel against Him, not giving thought to His love for us, and completely disregarding the sacrifice of His only Son who paid ultimate price. No heartbreak that we suffer can ever compare to the grief that we humans can and do cause the heart of God.
Jesus Himself died of a broken heart. My Pastor-Dad and author Stuart Reynolds recently spoke about this in a radio programme and he explains it better than I ever could. He said: “By this point, Jesus was already dead. And so it is surprising that blood should have flowed because the heart was no longer pumping blood, never mind along with water. The medical explanation is that Jesus Christ died of a broken heart. […] All Jesus endured on the cross physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually were so terrible that His heart was ruptured. It burst, and when that happened the blood of the heart mingled with the water of the pericardium – the sack that holds the heart – and so one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. Jesus Christ died of a broken heart”. (The full programme can be heard at http://gnba.net/listen-now/the-blood-of-jesus/). Jesus knows what it is to be broken hearted.
Broken hearts and the experiences that cause them can also have a use. In Every Day In His Presence, Charles F. Stanley writes “Because He is Lord over all creation, you can know for certain that He will work through everything that touches your life for your benefit. That’s right-everything. Nothing gets through to you if it won’t somehow edify or refine you eventually”. God can use our hurt. Our past experiences, whether good or bad, are the things that make us. They strengthen us and allow us to help others. In her book Treasured Moments with Mother Graham, Rose Adams recalls words spoken to her by Billy Graham’s mother, Morrow Coffey Graham. She said “God doesn’t comfort us to make us comfortable but to make us comforters. God seldom used a person’s life until they have first been broken. We have to be emptied of all self-will and desires and be willing to be broken and fashioned by His hand, to walk on His way, not our way”. Your broken heart can have a purpose. Your broken heart can ultimately be used to make a difference in the lives of others. Through our own broken hearts, we learn what it is to be comforted, which in turn makes us better comforters. It makes us better at empathy. It makes us better friends. Charles Spurgeon writes “friendship is one of the sweetest joys of life. Many might have failed beneath the bitterness of their trial had they not found a friend”. Using the lessons we’ve learned from our own broken hearts, we can better help others, offering them a helping hand, ensuring that they aren’t crushed by the “bitterness of their trial”. Morgan Harper Nichols encourages, “tell the story of the mountain you climbed. Your words could become a page in someone else’s survival guide”.
You might be broken hearted today. You might be a parent whose heart has been broken by a rebelling child. You might be a child whose heart has been broken by a closed off and emotionally unavailable parent. You might be someone whose heart has been broken by an ended romantic relationship, or the end of a friendship. You might be mourning the death of a loved one. You might have suffered loss in other forms. Whatever has broken your heart – you don’t need to stay that way. You don’t need to go through it alone. The Bible says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1, ESV). God cares about your heart, and God knows your heart, broken or otherwise. He promises to be with us – “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God” (Isaiah 41:10) – and calls us to Him, beckoning us to come to Him. Jesus says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). He wants us to run to Him. Let Him fix your heart.