This descriptor appears in Holy Scripture some 144 times. 6 of those usages involve arms. Others modify walls or other dividers either physical or spiritual. But this descriptor by far is reserved for modifying only one essential element of human existence. Can anyone guess? Yep….it’s the heart. Hearts being sundered, shattered, torn or pierced all fit comfortably within the Hebrew and Greek words for broken. And even more dramatically, a broken heart is not ridiculed nor despised in all of scripture, as it so often is throughout antiquity’s library. No, oddly enough, a broken heart is not only welcomed but even blessed by God. What the hey?
The Psalmist claims in Psalm 51:17, The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. In Psalm 34:18, The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit. In Psalm 147:3, He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds. Jesus teaches this same axiom about the Kingdom of the Heavens, and His own salvific mission, in the New Testament. During the Matthean Sermon on the Mount Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” I equate spiritual impoverishment with broken heartedness. And when asked to read the Shabbat Torah portion in his home synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus finds Isaiah 61:1, a prophetic oracle Isaiah spoke some 600 years earlier: the Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners.”
These past two weeks, at least around Eagle County, Colorado, have been difficult to bear. Sadness and tragedy abound. It seems as if the emotional check we all unwittingly had to write during 2020 is suddenly being cashed, and many of us don’t have the emotional funds in deposit to cover the bill. I have been strongly reminded that a Christian’s greatest virtue is not strength, but faithfulness and radical dependence upon God. Yes, you read that last correctly. In a community where we prize athletic prowess, business success, personal charisma, fiscal achievement and exterior attractiveness, we stand as believers to shout loudly and clearly, I STAND IN HOURLY NEED OF GOD’S STRENGTH AND POWER TO MAKE IT THROUGH THE DAY!!! I actually believed as a younger man that the older I became the more integrated, strong and capable I would become. What a fool I am. I am painfully and poignantly aware of my constant dependence upon God’s grace for every blessing I receive, even this gift of life I use to compose these devotional reflections. I am a broken man, loved and redeemed into daily existence by God’s love poured out in my life by my Savior and Lord. For those who compliment me upon my durability, please make no mistake! It is only by God’s power that I live, and exercise any agency over anything in this world. Hearts break, and only God’s power can bind them back up to make them whole.
- No less a Christian luminary than the Apostle Paul recorded God’s voice saying to him,My strength is perfected in your weakness! Evidently we must be clear that God’s power belongs solely to God and not to any element we generate ourselves. Where are you weakest, most brokenhearted and most broken today?
- Have you offered your brokenness to our Heavenly Father? If not yet, would you, honestly and transparently? Why not bring precisely those most human places into the divine purview of Jesus the Good Shepherd and Great Physician? Why not seek God’s healing, binding power over those places?
- Go easy dear readers. It is a time which is trying our very souls. Freely we have been given, free we give in return. Grace, love, patience, a good sense of humor, a little self-deprecation…all go a long way in human interaction right now. May God bind up all of our brokenness, even in our hearts!