“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)
God heals the brokenhearted. So 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 most often connects this with romantic break-ups or the loss of close family and friendships. God’s loving presence can certainly be a comfort in those situations. (Matthew 5:4)
Scripture also speaks of “a broken and contrite heart”, that is, a person who has become humble and repentant before the Lord after being convicted in their heart of pride and sin. (Psalm 51:17) Again, God’s grace to wash away our sins provides great comfort as He creates in us a “clean heart” and “right spirit”, restoring the joy of our salvation. (Psalm 51:1-12)
When, however, Psalms 34 and 147 speak of the brokenhearted, their wounds and their crushed spirits, I believe God is looking beyond those who mourn and those who are repentant. 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 the will – what we might call the inner man or inner woman.
In short, and in modern vernacular, I believe these psalms reveal God’s desire to heal the crippled soul.
Our neighborhoods (and our churches) include many men and women who have been deeply traumatized, particularly in their childhood. Some were abandoned. Many were sexually or physically abused. Even more were verbally abused on a long term basis, and they can all tell you in no uncertain terms that the nursery saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me”, is a lie of the devil.
As a result, these men and women, each beloved by God, struggle with various levels of anxiety, depression, anger, bitterness, isolation, guilt and/or shame. Almost all of them have problems with self-esteem.
Other children, even if not the victims of overt abuse, were taught by their parents or other caregivers what may be the greatest lie of all: that you are supposed to earn love and acceptance. When they did well, they received approval, but when they made a mistake or failed, they received condemnation and rejection. This eventually leads to the assumption that if things go wrong, it must be because you did wrong.
These men and women, also beloved by God, struggle with fear of failure and rejection. Many are people-pleasers or perfectionists, and again, almost all of them have deep-seated self-esteem issues.
God designed human beings to have three basic needs: the need to belong (love), the need to feel safe (peace), and the need to believe your life has value and significance (purpose). Those crippled in soul are challenged in these areas. Yet most of them will not seek healing.
When we are crippled in body 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 in our communities. We fear to be seen in our churches as lacking in faith. So we keep telling people, and sometimes ourselves, that we are fine when we really aren’t.
Those who do seek help from secular sources will primarily be provided medication, which may help you cope but will never heal you. The fortunate ones get some benefit from empathic counselors, particularly with approaches in cognitive behavioral therapy that seek to change how you think about life, situations and yourself. But it is almost impossible 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 can God heal the brokenhearted? Through prayer warriors, biblically grounded Christian counselors (pastoral or clinical), loving Christian community and the experience of God’s presence, the Lord can:
1. Plant hope in your heart that you can be healed.
2. Guide you through forgiveness ministry as to those who hurt you, and often yourself as well, so you can be freed from anger, bitterness, guilt and shame.
3. Convince you both in your outward mind and the depths of your being that you are incredibly loved and valued by God, and that God has family on earth who love and value you as well.
4. Impart His eternal perspective into your memories so that the hurt fades away, leaving behind gifts of wisdom, humility and empathy for others.
5. Free 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 God has for you as His child.
Some of this healing can come quickly, like surgery, and some will take time, like rehabilitation. The brokenhearted can be healed by the Lord if only 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