When You're Heartbroken

William C. Brownson Uncategorized

READ : Psalm 147:3

You know, there are many wonderful things said about God in the Bible, but here’s one of the most beautiful. He’s the one who heals the brokenhearted.”

Was there ever a more cheering word about God than this: “He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds?” That comes from Psalm 147, a song of praise to the Almighty. “Great is our Lord and abundant in power,” exults the psalmist. “His understanding is beyond measure, he determines the number of the stars. He gives to all of them their names.” Yes, and this sovereign Lord of heaven and earth, this Galaxy-Maker and Star-Namer, is also the compassionate one who mends broken hearts and heals the wounded spirit.

WHEN LIFE CRUSHES US

Many of you listening today know what it is to have a broken heart. I’m sure of that because of the letters many of you write. Perhaps you are feeling now the heartbreak of desertion. Your partner of many years has left you for someone else. The one who had professed so much love has gone away now, heedless of your feelings, trampling on your heart. How can you ever get over that?

Maybe it’s a long-cherished friendship that has been wrenched apart. It seems that your heart was knit together with that friend of yours and now the break between you has all but torn you in two. You’ve lost what seemed the best part of yourself. How could it have happened? How could the one you had trusted most turn away from you like that? No one knows the pain you feel.

Some of you are suffering today from grief. There’s a loved face you see no longer, a familiar voice you won’t hear again. Memory is bittersweet, hinting at joys but stabbing you with present loss. Someone wrote, quite matter of factly: “My family is gone . . . my husband died eight years ago. Dad died two years ago and Mom died last Mother’s Day. The home is sold and gone too.” Can you hear the pain and pathos there? All the dear ones who made life full and bright, even the home place, all gone now. What heartbreak!

Some of you write about your disappointments, your vanished dreams, your strangled hopes. You’re out of a job with no prospects of employment. You feel ashamed, unwanted, worthless, and how that hurts! The project to which you gave the best years of your life is about to collapse and all the hope you have left is about to go down with it. You’re facing the hard fact now that what you most wanted in life can never be yours, and you’re sick of soul about it, heartbroken.

What can I say to you who are so broken in spirit? Glib answers, easy formulas would be a cruel affront. There are no quick remedies, no ready assurances for people crushed by life. But I can echo the witness of other shattered ones – this psalmist, people I know. I can even make it my own testimony to you because I’ve been there. “He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.”

How does he do it? Sometimes through caring people, by sending someone to our lives who’s like an angel is disguise. I know a young man who’s been addicted to drugs for 12 years, five times hospitalized, teetering on the brink of total despair and ruin. But he’s found a place of help, a support-base, and most marvelously, a friend. You can almost see his brokenness coming together before your eyes and a whole new life beginning. Sometimes when your world is smashed, God brings along someone to listen, someone to share a little of the pain, someone to “be there.” Strangely, beautifully, you feel yourself healing.

Often when you’re facing a blank wall of despair, he opens a new door. An unexpected opportunity comes your way. Your pain makes possible a service of love, a ministry to someone else, that never would have happened otherwise.

It may be, as time goes on, that it’s a sense of God’s presence which sustains you. You somehow know that he’s bearing you up, that he’s on your side, that he’s in this with you. And that begins to make life liveable. That’s what a cancer sufferer told me not long ago: “He’s with me. I don’t know what I’d do without him.”

Sometimes his healing comes on the wings of hope. We are comforted by his promise. Things won’t ever be the same here – we know that. We’ll struggle with our pain, our disappointment, our loss, as long as we live. But better things are ahead. An undreamed of healing is waiting over there. “God himself will be with them,” is the promise. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:3,4).Yes, sometimes God’s Word is a great hope.

ANOTHER KIND OF HEARTBREAK

But there’s another way in which your heart can be broken. We’ve been thinking of how that can come about through your circumstances, through what happens to you. But heartbreak also visits us when we become conscious of our sins. In fact, it’s to this kind of inner suffering that the promise of God especially applies, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

There’s a great prophecy in the book of Isaiah about the anointed servant of the Lord, the Messiah, binding up the brokenhearted. But here these shattered people are identified with the humble, the penitent, the contrite in spirit. Job was one of those. In the presence of God, he said, “I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6). Isaiah was one, “Woe is me for I am undone, for I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips, and mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isa. 6:5). Peter was one. He fell on his knees before Jesus and said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Lk. 5:8). The apostle Paul was still another. After he met the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, he could call himself the “chief of sinners,” (1 Tim. 1:15) and cry, “O, wretched man that I am!” (Rom. 7:24). Now this brokenness arises not from injury, loss, or disappointment but from encountering the living God. In his presence, people become acutely, painfully aware of their sinfulness.

King David’s experience is a vivid illustration of this. Months after the adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah, David was confronted by God’s prophet, Nathan (2 Sam. 11:1-12:25). He told David a story through which the king unwittingly condemned himself. Nathan drove the point home: “You are the man!” (12:7). He brought David face to face with his sin and into the presence of God. Then the king’s heart was broken.

Psalm 51 is a poignant expression of that brokenness. We overhear the cry of a wounded spirit. David’s sorrow over sin is expressed first in confession: “I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only have I sinned and done that which is evil in your sight” (Ps. 51:3,4). He acknowledges his wrong and sees it to be ultimately against God. Further, he acknowledges that sin is a deep, pervasive reality in his life, that he has always had a bent toward it. “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (v. 5).

Then there is an appeal for God’s forgiveness. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love, according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin”(vv. 1,2).

But there is more here than a desire to be cleansed and acquitted. David now hates the evil within his life and longs to be delivered from it entirely.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

(vv. 10,12)

Do you see what’s happening here? A man, upon meeting God, feels keen distress over his sins and sinfulness. He despairs of any help or healing within himself and looks toward God alone for pardon, cleansing and renewal. That is the cry of a broken heart.

Healing for such soul hurts is swift and sure. To a broken Isaiah, says through his messenger, “Your guilt is taken away and your sins forgiven” (Isa. 6:7). Jesus restores a Peter, pardons a Paul, and makes them both witnesses to his redeeming grace. And David can sing with gratitude,

I acknowledged my sin to thee and I did not hide my iniquity. Then thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin.”

God “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

COSTLY HEALING

This latter healing is difficult and costly. The God who speaks all things into being and names the stars can easily comfort those who are crushed by their circumstances. He can send forth his angels as ministering friends. He can open new doors of opportunity for the sorrowing and give them a sense of his own presence. He can speak the Word that cheers their hearts with hope. But to heal hearts broken for sin takes far more. For that, the heart of God must be broken too. For that, he must come to share our lot and suffer on our behalf. In the person of his dear Son, he must be wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement that belongs to our peace must be laid on him. For it is only by his stripes, his wounds, that we are healed. (See Isa. 53:5). In his sorrows, we find our salvation.

What a gospel this is, friends! What a caring physician is the Lord for wounded spirits! God is no far-off observer, ministering to our needs at a safe distance. He comes down into our plague-ridden world and takes upon himself the worst consequences of our evil way. In Christ, he dies for our sins so that we may have forgiveness and become whole. That’s why there’s a balm for stricken hearts and healing for wounded spirits. The servant of the Lord binds up the brokenhearted by giving himself on our behalf.

Where does this gospel find you today? There are some for whom a broken heart, a contrite spirit, sounds anything but attractive. That’s the last thing in the world they want! I read recently in a news magazine about one of our celebrated authors. As he looked forward to the future, the one thing he was sure about was that he’d “never be pious.” A sense of indebtedness to God, a brokenness of spirit before him, was no part of this man’s plans.

Maybe you are somewhat like him, reasonably well satisfied with how you’re doing, confident that you can take care of yourself. You feel no need of God’s mercy, no yearning to be forgiven and cleansed. There is nothing in you that cries out to be transformed within, to receive a new beginning. And so this word about a God who “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” has little interest for you.

If that be the case, then my prayer for you today is that your heart will be wounded. I’m not wishing for you any calamity. God forbid that you should be deserted, bereaved, or crushed by disappointment! But I do pray that you will so become aware of God’s holiness and mercy, that you will so see your life in the light of Christ’s cross, that you will know yourself to be a sinful man or woman and call upon God for mercy. I pray that you will despair of all efforts to excuse yourself, to make yourself right with God, and will trust in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation. It’s only the lost ones, friends, who can be found, only the wounded who can experience healing, only those who feel the pain of repentance who can know the great joy of God’s salvation.

So if you feel your need today, look to Jesus Christ dying in your place. Confess to him your sins. Call on him to be your Savior. Abandon your life to him and his lordship, and you will know this very day that he heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Blessed be his name!