Friday, January 6, 2012

Medicine for Broken Hearts

Between a friend's grief and our church's upcoming Lenten devotional, the theme of brokenness is on my mind this week. This old essay on the various ways God ministers healing to broken people came to mind, but at 2,393 words it is too long to read well in this venue. Really, the most important part comes in the last few paragraphs. Here they are, with a prayer that you dear Crumbles would find in God the remedy your particular brokenness requires.

He healeth those that are broken in heart
and giveth medicine to heal their sickness
(Ps 147:3, Prayer Book Version).

...if the Lord does have a universal, one-size-fits-all panacea for broken hearts, it is a fresh vision of Himself, some aspect of His character which we have not yet internalized but which exactly suits that moment’s need.  His very name is “I AM THAT I AM,” and that name is His promise that he Himself is all we need.  It hardly seems coincidence that both Job and Naomi in their deepest pain call him Shaddai, the All-Sufficient God, as adequate for our soul’s need as a mother’s breast (shad, in Hebrew) is for her infant.

While God rarely grants a personal, visible appearance to us (even in Bible times the exception rather than the rule), He has given us the substance of such a vision in the Bible, particularly in the portrait of Christ found there.  Hebrews tells us Jesus was made like us, His brothers, in every way except sin.  Because He Himself knows our suffering by experience, He is just the tenaciously loyal and compassionate friend a broken heart needs (Heb 2:17-18).

Am I hurting physically?  He suffered death by crucifixion.  Am I ashamed and scorned?  Anyone who died on a cross was reckoned cursed by God; even the thief dying on His left mocked Him.  Am I grieving?  Jesus grieved for the pain of His loved ones, weeping alone in Gethsemane, tenderly entrusting His mother to His beloved disciple as He died.  Am I mourning for loved ones who do not know the Lord and don’t even seem to care?  He wept over unbelieving Jerusalem, and He loves our loved ones far more than we do.  His grief is with us for them.  Am I lonely, persecuted, desolated?  He was continually misunderstood even by His family and closest friends.  In the end, He was delivered to His enemies by one of those friends—with a kiss of betrayal, for the price of a common slave.  Even His own Father forsook Him in that hour of darkness when He bore our sin.  No other loneliness can compare with that.  Whatever pain I’m feeling, however excruciating it may be, He knows.

When our deepest need is just that, simply someone who knows, who understands our pain from having been there himself, someone who will stay with us in the pain and suffer with us patiently, we need look no further than Jesus.  He healeth those that are broken in heart and giveth medicine – is Himself the medicine – to heal their sickness.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.


  1. "Because He Himself knows our suffering by experience, He is just the tenaciously loyal and compassionate friend a broken heart needs (Heb 2:17-18)." Yes, yes. Obviously, you are following in His steps as a friend. Bless you and your friend both in this path. The list of questions with the reminders of truth in the next paragraph are powerful. Saying a prayer for comfort and healing.

  2. I especially love the Shaddai part.

  3. such good stuff. that Jesus is Emmanuel means that He is with us not just "in weal" but also "in woe"-- providing us with the compassion (literally "suffering with") we desperately need when we are broken hearted. i thought your essay went well with the (very moving) video of Joni Eareckson Tada you posted some time back: if memory serves, she stressed that when someone is in a situation of extreme affliction (as she was, after her diving accident), what that person needs first and above all is loving compassion.

    your prayer for us crumbles is much appreciated and much returned!

  4. "Whatever pain I'm feeling, however excruciating it may be, He knows." Yes. YES. Oh, the hope of being *known*! How often we let our grief or struggle be multiplied because we feel that on one knows, no one understands, no one feels what we are feeling. And yet He *knows*. And in ways that no human being ever could. May we all keep this thought close in whatever struggles we are facing.


Thank you for sharing your day with me! Your presence here is a gift. *You* are a gift. Right now I am unable to reply to every comment, but please know I read and pray for each and every commenter. Grace and peace to you in Christ.