Scripture Text: “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3
The heart of mankind is a fragile thing. The inner man, the person we are on the inside, can be deeply hurt and crushed by the many problems and disappointments of life. None of us is going to make it to adulthood without having our heart broken – and broken – and broken again. And all the king’s horses and all the king’s men will be of absolutely no value in mending our shattered hearts. What can we do when the problems of life batter and bruise our hearts?
A. Sometimes things just don’t work out the way we hoped that they would: in fact, sometimes it seems that things work out exactly opposite of what we wanted.
1. We’ve all had an experience where a close friend or family member failed us, disappointed us or let us down – it hurt us deeply.
2. Or maybe it was a project that we had worked on for a long time; a lifelong objective or a cherished dream that didn’t come true – when our dreams broke, our hearts broke.
3. Possibly it was unexpected sickness or the death of a loved one that forever changed the entire direction of our life – our spirit was crushed.
4. Life’s problems, disappointments, hurts and sorrows grieve us: most of us know what it means to have a broken heart: (not the frivolous discomfort of a lost “puppy love”) but the serious, deep, unrelenting anguish that comes from life’s severe hurts and griefs.
B. As if enduring our own heartaches was not enough, we also have to bear the problems and agonies that are tormenting the people we love.
1. We want our loved ones to be happy – we want them to succeed and to have a rich, full life in Jesus Christ.
2. But when life becomes painful for them, their earthquakes of anguish register on the Richter scale of our own hearts – we share their agony.
3. The psalmist knew exactly what it felt like to have a broken heart.
“Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness . . .” Psalm 69:20
“Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate.” Psalm 143:4
C. The Hebrew word used here for “heart” doesn’t refer to the physical organ that pumps blood throughout our bodies: it means the inner man, the spirit or internal being.
1. Our heart, our inner man becomes bruised and injured by life’s problems – every difficulty, big and small, takes its toll on our heart, the inner man.
2. Some problems actually devastate us – they completely shatter our heart, they demoralize our spirit and leave us feeling destroyed and desolate.
A. Often a broken heart makes us more receptive to a deeper walk with God – problems can actually cause our heart to soften before the Lord.
“For God maketh my heart soft, and the Almighty troubleth me:” Job 23:16
1. When God allows troubles to come our way, our hearts are broken, our stubborn willfulness is exposed, our pitiful insufficiency is revealed – and our brokenness can reveal how much we really need God!
“The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; . . .” Psalm 34:18
“. . . a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Psalm 51:17
· So often we use our heart’s intellect and emotion to try to run our own lives and determine our own destiny.
· We set our own agendas, we institute our own ideas, we decide what we want to do and then we expect God to bless our plans.
· Our obstinate, head-strong determination to do things our own way usually results in a broken heart – our brokenness drives us to our knees to seek God again for a fresh touch and for new direction.
· A broken relationship, a disappointment over someone else’s behavior, our anguish over the harm that we or others are causing often compels us to pray for them.
· The death or loss of a loved one reveals to us the stark reality that God alone is our eternal hope and He only is our lasting joy.
· Brokenness forces us to be better or bitter – we choose either to surrender to God or to battle relentlessly against His will.
2. If we allow it, brokenness can help us realize how much we need God and His strength –our broken heart can make us more receptive to a deeper walk with God.
B. The prophet Jeremiah recorded the story of the broken hearts of the people of Israel – they were devastated by the fall and destruction of Jerusalem; Jerusalem was their beloved, holy city, the very center of their social and religious life.
1. During this time, the people of God were either slaughtered or carried off into exile in Babylon.
2. The hearts of the people were shattered and desolate – hope had been forsaken and it seemed that there was no reason even to live.
3. This horrible tragedy was God’s punishment for their rebellion – yet even in punishment, God gave them a promise for their broken hearts.
“And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.” Jeremiah 24:7
C. The Lord explains how He will create a new heart-desire in His people.
“And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” Ezekiel 11:19-20
D. These two promises offer us a three-part gift when our hearts are broken by life’s problems and sorrows:
· God has promised to remove our old, damaged, callused heart.
· God has promised to give us a new heart.
· God has promised us a fresh start – a new beginning.
E. Ultimately, these promises were fulfilled at Pentecost when the disciples were filled with a new heart, a new spirit and a new hope.
1. If you have been filled with the Spirit of God, you have received a new heart, but sometimes even new hearts need to be regenerated, transformed and refreshed – especially when they have been broken!
A. God has promised to perform spiritual surgery on those whose hearts have been broken – He has scheduled us for a heart transplant.
1. We don’t like being vulnerable to pain – when our heart is wounded over and over again, our natural response is to build up a protective barrier against being hurt. We’ve all heard people say, “I will not be hurt again”.
2. Over a period of time, our inner heart can start building up “scar tissue”: we begin to become callused; our hearts become hardened to life.
3. We develop heart disease, a hardening of the arteries – the cholesterol of problems causes a build-up of plaque and an obstruction of the flow of God’s love and guidance in our lives.
4. A stony heart is one that is hardened by willfulness, callused by bitterness – it seeks its own way and it resents and rejects God’s will.
5. God says the old, diseased, hardened heart must be removed.
“. . . I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh . . .”
B. The second part of God’s promise is that He will also replace the old heart with a new heart – a gentle, tender, compassionate, responsive heart.
1. A fleshly heart is a vulnerable, sensitive, soft heart – a heart that can be touched by people and by God.
2. God no longer writes His commandments on stone – He desires a soft, fleshly surface upon which to write His laws.
“. . . written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.” 2 Cor. 3:3
“The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.” Psalm 37:31
3. God writes a new letter each day of His love and His will for us upon the soft, receptive surface of our new heart, our new inner man.
C. Thirdly, God offers us a fresh start.
1. Life is made up of a constant series of new beginnings when Jesus Christ reigns in our hearts – we never stop “beginning”!
· He brings the potential for some kind of victory out of every defeat.
· He gives us strength and courage never to give up on life.
· He helps us put our losses behind us and move on to new gains.
· We are freed from all our past mistakes – each morning we journey into a new beginning with Him!
2. When we face sickness and pain, we have a healer – when we face grief, we have a comforter – when we face problems, we have a counselor – when we face need, we have a provider – when we face death, we have a resurrector – when we face a broken heart, we have a “Heartmender”.
3. When we allow God to be our “heart doctor”, we can express our grief, we can reveal our pain, we can “let it out” without blaming God – instead, God becomes our counselor, our comforter, our partner!
4. Then we can experience the miraculous transformation from the sorrow of loss to the joyous expectation of what the Lord has ahead for us.
D. When problems break our heart, we are in a spiritually strategic place – if your heart has been broken, God wants to hold your heart in His hands.
1. Give Him the opportunity to take charge of your heart, to break into the inner core of your self-determination and willfulness – let Him perform spiritual surgery to place His new heart within you.
2. The result of your broken heart can be a new heart, a new spirit, and a new hope for the brand new beginning that God has planned for you.
“He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3
1. Discuss what tends to happen to us on the inside when our heart is repeatedly broken.
2. Explain how a broken heart can draw us closer to God – or push us away from God.
3. Discuss what a “stony heart” is – discuss what a “fleshly heart” is.
4. Discuss the three parts of God’s promise to the broken hearted and explain each.