The emotional pain inflicted on us by others can be far worse than the physical wounds we experience. What is the right ointment for wounded hearts?
How can you mend this broken man?
How can a loser ever win?
Please help me mend my broken heart and let me live again.
These lyrics from a popular song of the ’70s, “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?” by the Bee Gees, can certainly make us reflect on our own broken hearts. How many of you have a broken heart now, or have had your heart broken in the past? You have this huge gaping hole in your heart that was left by someone or circumstances. How many of you feel that this hole can never be filled and that you will be left with the hollow in your heart forever?
There can be many reasons why we are left with a broken heart: the death of a loved one, divorce, loss of a job, loss of status, loss of health, betrayal by a friend, loss of a child and, yes, loss of your childhood. All of these reasons can leave you a broken man or woman.
Along with enormous blessings, I have also had great sorrow in my life. The biggest sorrow of all was the loss of my childhood and never knowing what a loving father is like. I never heard my father say “I love you” or “I am very proud of you.” I never experienced what it is like to feel secure, with a strong father in my life, protecting me and keeping me safe. This reality in my life has left a hole in my heart—an emptiness that I once felt could never be filled.
Even though we have these holes in our hearts, I am here to tell you that there is hope for you and me, and for all the brokenhearted. There is hope for those who sorrow, because there is a Healer who will mend our broken hearts. As David said in Psalm 147:3: “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” God wants to heal us of all of our wounds.
What is a wound? If you have ever had an injury or a deep cut, you know how painful it is and how it hurts to be touched. Oftentimes sorrow and loss are like deep wounds. They can be so painful that it seems no one or nothing can make the pain go away. Sometimes our heart is so broken that we can’t even express the words and nothing seems to take the pain away.
People who try to encourage us can’t seem to say the right thing. Like a deep wound, a broken heart will not heal overnight. Like some medicines that burn when you apply them to a skin wound, so can a well-meaning friend who says the wrong thing at the wrong time. Who wants to pour rubbing alcohol on an open wound? We search the stores to find an ointment that we can apply to our skin wound that will not burn and then cover it gently with a Band-Aid. It’s the same way with our broken heart. We need the right ointment to bring about healing.
So what is the right ointment for our hearts? How do we begin to heal? How can the hole in our hearts that is gaping open begin to close?
1. Recognize the pain and understand it is OK to hurt. Sometimes we seek to cover the pain by ignoring it or through other means like the use of alcohol or drugs, which will only cause us to get infected and reverse the healing process. Like a deep skin wound, we must apply the right ointment or a Band-Aid so we can begin to heal or else it can get infected and become worse. We cannot ignore our pain and think it will go away.
Understand that it is OK to hurt. We try to push the hurt away, but we can’t. The hurt isn’t outside of us—it’s inside. So, in our attempt to push the hurt away, we actually push the hurt deeper inside. We then can spend the rest of our life running from this suppressed hurt.
By going through our hurts, we are a part of the human race—millions of people who are going through similar pains. It is during this time that we need a lot of love, encouragement and hope restored. We realize how frail we are and see our great need for God.
It is a time to reflect on the true meaning of life and the greatest opportunity of all to draw close to God. It is an opportunity to learn empathy toward others who are going through the same things. You cannot do all of these things if you try to ignore the pain.
2. Seek the Healer. Seek God as your healer! Just like you tell a doctor your symptoms, tell God how much you were wounded and need His healing touch. He will hear the cries of the broken. God the Father wants to reach down, take your hand, and walk you through your pain. It may take weeks. For many of us it will take years, perhaps even a lifetime to close the wounds of our hearts completely. God will spend as much time and as many years as necessary to help you through it.
He wants to gently apply the daily salve or ointment of His Holy Spirit to your heart until your heart is healed. I know this because He has done it with me. When I am down, He lifts me up in many different ways. He is there for me to cry on His shoulder, so to speak, and then sends His encouraging Spirit to get me back up and going again.
King David said in Psalm 56:8, “You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your book?” God was so aware of David that He even collected his tears. In the same way God is involved and aware of our pain, our joys, our failures, our accomplishments.
When Hezekiah was stricken with sickness, he poured out his heart to God. God heard him and saw his tears. God was moved with compassion. “Return and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you”’” (2 Kings 20:5). God saw Hezekiah’s tears. Understand that God can be closer to us when the pain is so great than at any other times in our life.
“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit,” wrote David (Psalm 34:18, NIV). Ask and receive God’s love and encouragement, because He is very near to you. God can work with a heart that has a hole in it, because the need is so great for it to be filled.
3. Reach out to others. As God has reached out to us, so we should be an instrument of God to reach out and help others who are in pain. Solomon recognized the fact that people need to be comforted. In Ecclesiastes 4:1 it says, “Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun: I saw the tears of the oppressed—and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors—and they have no comforter” (NIV).
Ask God to use you to encourage others through their pain. By your own pain you will be able to understand and help in a far greater way. Christ our Savior was in all points tested and understands all that you go through. He reached out to us by giving His life so that we would be healed.
Isaiah 61:1-3 discusses Christ’s mission: “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor” (NIV).
This will come to pass when Christ returns, but in the meantime we should make it our mission to follow this example, and be instruments of healing by taking the time to care for those who are in pain and hurting. By reaching out to others, our own pain will begin to disappear; the holes in our hearts will begin to close.
Healing takes time
It takes time to heal. In my life, after 25 years, there is still a hole in my heart, but it’s much smaller because of God. Every time I feel God’s presence, every time I see God’s intervention in my life, every time I reach out to someone else, every time God grants me blessings, the hole in my heart gets smaller and is being replaced with God’s heart.
When God returns to this earth, the hole in our hearts and in mankind’s hearts will be filled and mended. There will be no more tears, no more pain, no more sorrow and no more holes to fill in an empty heart—for all our hearts will be filled with God’s Spirit. For as Psalm 126:5 promises, “Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.” God will heal all broken hearts. We will no longer feel sad for what we lacked in this physical life because God will fill our hearts and make us complete.
For more on this subject, please request our free booklet, Why Does God Allow Suffering?
(The article was first published in the October/November 2003 issue of Virtual Christian Magazine.)
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