What does God say to those who hurt?
This afternoon, I will officiate at a funeral of a much-loved woman. I find myself thinking of her bereaved family just now and wondering about others who are experiencing heartache: can a broken heart be healed? Does the hurt ever go away? And in the meantime, is there a way to keep on living?
Heartache is part of our human condition. We will experience it in lesser or greater ways throughout our lives; of that, I am sure. Whether it is the death of someone dear or betrayal of a loved one … whatever the cause, it is sure to come. Only God can comprehend the depths of our hurt, only God can heal it, and restore our hearts.
So, Lord, if I were to step into your physical presence and carry a dear friend to you, crushed by the heartache of pain and loss in his life, what would you say to him?
“Child, I am with you; you do not walk alone. I know what it is like to lose someone you love. Come to me, and I will give you rest.1
There is nothing that you will face or feel that I have not already experienced2, so I can help you through your troubled time.
So often it seems that you can live your life without me—you think you are self- sufficient and manage most everything by yourself. I appreciate your ‘can do’ attitude, but you see, when that is how you think, then prayer is just a nice little add-on to your daily habits; it is not your life’s breath.
On the other hand, when life gets hard~
When you are in the valley David spoke of . . .
when you are unsure how you will go on,
when it feels as though your heart may just break in two,
when you are so tired or discouraged that life just
doesn’t seem manageable
when you are overwhelmed by circumstances,
certain that there are no easy or ready answers…
then, please remember that I, your loving God, never slumber, and I do not sleep.3 I am close to the brokenhearted—that is a promise.4
In reality, dear one, sometimes, it is when you are in pain that I am able to soften your heart and get your attention. It is when you cannot reason or talk all things out and find a place to make each fit … when you are unable to find neat little boxes or tidy packages in which to tie things up … that you turn your gaze toward me, and give me a chance. Sometimes it is when I am all you have that you realize I am all you need. ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives give I to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.5
Friends, maybe the prayer that is answered more often than any other is just eight words—two words, repeated four times: “Oh God, oh God, oh God, oh God!” It is when we come to the end of ourselves, the end of what we are able to manage and control, and turn heavenward realizing that God is mighty to save, that he alone is truly able to save!6 As long as self is in the way, there is not much room for God to come and do the miraculous, whether we pray or not.
Perhaps when our hearts hurt, God has his greatest opportunity with us. Rather than just struggling along, we can ask God to come and meet us, and heal our brokenness.
‘You won’t face anything, Child, that I have not, so I understand … I get it. I understand the depth and breadth of your emotion. I’m not just big enough to bear it all, I am also BIGGER than all of it. I am outside of time and space and can rescue you. If you look to me, I will give you what you need—the grace—to make it through one day at a time.7 I love you.
The Good Shepherd never leaves his sheep alone.
When they are weighed down by life,
he picks them up and carries them.
When you’re in the valley, God is with you.
By the way, take note that when you are in the valley,
the grass is the greenest.
Peace be with you,
1 – Matthew 11.28
2 – 1 Corinthians 10.13
3 – Psalm 121.4
4 – Psalm 34.18
5 - John 14.27
6 – Zephaniah 3.17
7 – 2 Corinthians 12.9