“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18) “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)
We know God heals the brokenhearted, but who are these brokenhearted people God heals, and how does He heal them?
Dictionary.com defines “brokenhearted” as: “burdened with great sorrow, grief or disappointment”. Our culture often connects this with romantic break-ups or the loss of close family and friendships, and God can certainly bring comfort to His people in those situations. (Matthew 5:4)
Scripture also speaks of “a broken and contrite heart” – a person who has become humbly repentant before the Lord after being convicted in their heart of pride and sin. (Psalm 51:17) God’s forgiveness of our sins through Christ can provide great comfort as He creates in us a “clean heart” and “right spirit”, restoring the joy of our salvation. (Psalm 51:1-12)
When Psalms 34 and 147 speak of the brokenhearted, however, I believe God is looking beyond those who mourn or repent. The Hebrew word used for “broken” (“shabar”) can mean “shattered” or “crippled”. The Hebrew word used for “heart” (“leb”) refers not just to emotions but to the mind and will – what we call the inner man or inner woman.
In short, I believe these psalms reveal God’s desire to heal the crippled soul.
Our families, neighborhoods, and congregations include many people, young and old, who have been deeply traumatized, particularly in their childhood. Some were abandoned. Many were sexually or physically abused. Even more were verbally abused – living proof that the nursery rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me”, is a lie of the devil.
As a result, these people struggle every day with various levels of anxiety, depression, anger, bitterness, isolation, guilt, shame, and low self-esteem.
Other children, even if not the victims of overt abuse, wrongly learned from their parents or other caregivers that you are supposed to earn love and acceptance. When they did well, they received approval, but when they made a mistake, they received condemnation or rejection. This eventually leads to the assumption that if things go wrong, it must be because you did wrong. As a result, these people struggle with fear of failure and rejection. They often become people-pleasers or perfectionists, which can disguise their pain and fear.
God designed human beings with three basic needs: the need to belong (love), the need to feel safe (peace), and the need to know your life has value and significance (purpose). Those crippled in soul are challenged in one or more of these areas. Yet most of them will not seek healing.
When our body is crippled by injury or disease, we do not hesitate to seek help. But when we are crippled in soul, the opposite occurs. We fear the stigma of mental illness. We fear people in our churches will think we lack faith. So, we keep telling people we are fine when we really are not fine at all
Those who do seek help from secular sources will primarily receive medication, which may help you cope but will never heal you. The fortunate ones get the benefit of empathic counselors, particularly with approaches in cognitive behavioral therapy that seek to change how you think about life, situations, and yourself. But it is difficult for secular therapists to help you take those changes in thinking to the deeper levels below your rational mind – to your memories and subconscious where the pain is rooted. You need the power of God to do that.
How does God heal the brokenhearted? Through biblically grounded Christian counselors (pastoral or clinical), loving Christian community, the experience of God’s presence, and the power of prayer, the Lord can:
1. Plant hope in your heart that you can be healed. This is where it begins.
2. Guide you through forgiveness ministry so you are free from anger, bitterness, guilt, and shame. This includes forgiveness of yourself.
3. Convince you in the depths of your being that you are incredibly loved and valued by God. The truth sets you free, and His perfect love casts out all fear! (John 8:32; 1 John 4:18)
4. Impart His eternal perspective into your memories so the power of the hurts fades away, leaving behind redemptive gifts of wisdom, humility, and empathy for others.
5. Deliver you from any demonic oppression that is aggravating your pain and obstructing your efforts to heal.
6. Set you on the path to the wonderful hope and future He has for you as His child. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Healing in part can come quickly, like surgery, even though healing in whole will usually require a time of rehabilitation. Our Lord can heal the brokenhearted if they will respond to His invitation: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
God bless you, and God bless our community