By Bruce Mackay
Healing the Broken Hearted | DOWNLOAD Healing the Broken Hearted | DOWNLOAD (188 KB)
Many people suffer from a broken heart. This deep grief that crushes our spirit can be caused by many of life’s circumstances. Some reasons may include the death of a loved one, the breakdown of a trusted relationship or the realisation of a foolish action on our part that has caused great grief to others. When we are suffering from a broken heart, we find it difficult to find any consolation, comfort or resolution. Jesus came to heal the broken-hearted. If you find yourself in this situation, then true resolution can be a reality through the Lord Jesus Christ.
The life of Jesus is the fulfillment of many prophecies spoken by holy men of God by the Holy Spirit. The prophet Isaiah said, ‘The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn’. Jesus stood in His home-town synagogue, read this quote and declared that He was the One the prophet spoke of, and that He had come to ‘heal the broken-hearted’.
A broken-hearted widow
Jesus was a man who did exactly what He said He would do. When He said that He had come to heal the brokenhearted, that is exactly what He did. Jesus and many of His disciples came to a city called Nain. As was common, a large crowd gathered to Him. As they arrived at the gate of the city, a funeral procession was taking place. The dead man was the only son of his mother and she was a widow. The crowd that was proceeding to the burial was overtaken by grief. They cared deeply for the poor woman who had suffered the loss of her husband and now her only son. He was a young man that they all thought had a long life ahead of him.
They found no way to comfort or console her. She was broken-hearted and now she was alone. She could see no hope for the way ahead. A widow in those days was absolutely dependent on her family for food, clothing and housing. Now her only remaining loved one was dead. Her only form of provision was dead. She would have felt that she would be better off dead herself. These are the symptoms of a broken heart. There’s no reason for going on, no purpose for living and absolutely no hope.
When the Lord saw this broken-hearted lady, He had compassion for her. Compassion is much more than just sympathy. Compassion involves participation. Jesus loved and cared enough about this woman and her circumstances that He was both willing and able to heal her broken heart. Jesus came to the open coffin and touched it. He spoke to the widow’s dead son saying, ‘Young man I say to you, arise’. Immediately, life came into his dead body causing him to sit up and speak.
Imagine what flowed through the heart of the widow when Jesus presented her son alive to her. Immediately, her broken heart was healed. Her sorrow was turned to joy and her mourning into dancing. The words of Jesus had brought life out of death. In the words of Jesus there is life and there is eternal healing. He has the words of eternal life.
On first reading of this most wonderful event that happened in a Middle Eastern city over two thousand years ago, you could say to yourself, ‘How does that help me? How does that heal my broken heart? My loved one is long dead and buried. Jesus didn’t come and raise them up. I still have a broken heart’. As we look at how Jesus healed the broken heart of the widow, we also can experience His compassion and be healed.
My wife and I have experienced the sorrow and ache of losing a grandson. In this sorrow, we and his parents experienced the comfort that is found from the word of God at our church, through the fellowship of believers in Christ. Instead of broken hearts sorrowing with no hope, we each found the comfort and peace that can only be found in Christ our Lord.
The church - a place of healing
The church is not to be a man-made institution, but the body of Christ. It is to be the gathering of all who have received the life of God through the Lord Jesus Christ, where each member has submitted to Christ as Lord. Each person is no longer living a self-centered life, but is living for the other. It is in this context that the comfort of Christ can come. This is where the word of Christ can come and bring life to our soul. The church is where the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are actively present. As we sorrow, we receive God’s comfort through those who have suffered. And, likewise, we comfort others with the comfort of Christ that we have found through another. We sorrow for the other. This removes self pity and the comfort of Christ abounds.
The comfort of Christ
‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our comfort is abundant through Christ.’ 2 Cor 1:3-5.
It is true that our comfort is abundant through Christ. As surely as the widow in the city of Nain received Christ’s comfort, we too can receive His abundant comfort. No one goes through life without experiencing sorrow, suffering or affliction, but our sorrow does not have to be without hope. ‘But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. Therefore comfort one another with these words.’ 1Thess 4:13-14, 18.
Not time and chance
Many broken-hearted people are always asking ‘why’ or ‘what if’. Jesus taught in His sermons that we don’t have to live by time and chance, hoping to be in the right place at the right time or fearing that we will be at the wrong place at the wrong time. He said that if we turn from living self-centered, self-directed and self-reasoned lives, and live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, we will have life and know His peace. Just as His word during the funeral procession in the city of Nain brought life and healing, His word that proceeds to those who gather to eat and drink the communion will bring life and healing to all who have an ear to hear.
Sorrow from sin
We have all done things that we regret. There are times when our actions or words can break the heart of another. Or we realise that what we have said or done has crushed our spirit or the spirit of another. One of Jesus’ disciples, Peter, found himself in this situation. After pledging his devout loyalty to Jesus and his willingness to defend Him at all costs, Peter openly denied Jesus three times. In addition to this, Jesus had warned Peter that this would happen. When Peter realised what he had done, how he had denied and cursed his friend Jesus, he was broken-hearted and crushed. The Bible says that Peter wept bitterly.
If we are ever in this position ourselves, we will find that all of our relationships are affected and our enthusiasm for life is gone. Unless we are restored and healed through the Lord Jesus Christ, Satan gains an advantage and we will find ourselves oppressed and demoralised. At the same time that Peter denied Jesus, another of His disciples, Judas, also betrayed Him. Judas was broken-hearted by his actions. Tragically, Judas never made an attempt to be restored to Jesus and be healed and forgiven. He died full of sorrow and remorse.
Restoration and healing
Peter didn’t immediately go to Jesus for forgiveness. This complicated matters for Peter, because by that same afternoon, Jesus had been crucified. This added to Peter’s broken heart. Three days later, when Mary and other women visited the tomb of Jesus, they found it empty. Christ had risen from the dead! There in the garden, Mary spoke to Jesus. She was told to go to the disciples and Peter and tell them to meet with the resurrected Christ. We note here that Peter was singled out. Jesus was eager to meet Peter and heal his broken heart.
Jesus is eager to meet you and heal your broken heart. Are you willing to be healed?
It would appear that this message of Jesus’ desire to meet Peter brought hope to him. He ran at full speed to the tomb. Over the next forty days, Jesus and Peter spoke together many times.
Although we don’t have every conversation that Jesus had with Peter recorded, we know through the teachings of Jesus that forgiveness is essential for the restoration of relationships. ‘Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”. Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses”.’ Matt 18:21-22.
The following conversation between Jesus and Peter shows the healing of Peter’s broken heart. The grief and other effects that had been caused by his sins were resolved. This enabled him to be recovered to his pathway, calling and purpose in life. ‘Jesus said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”. Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?”. And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You”. Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish”. This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me”.’ John 21:17-19.
We read of Peter boldly following and declaring the Lord Jesus. This one person who was crushed in spirit had been fully restored and recovered. He now was comforting others and seeing them healed through the word of Christ in the church.
‘Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith – the salvation of your souls.’ 1 Pet 1:1-9.
May each of us find healing and recovery. We need to submit ourselves to Christ’s Lordship, gathering with others who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. In this church context, we hear and receive the words of Christ that we may be comforted, healed, forgiven and restored. We likewise can comfort others with the comfort we have received.