“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
We live in a world of joy and heartbreak. But it often seems like the heartbreak is more prominent. Reading or watching the news gives a daily dose of everything that is wrong in the world. But we know it is much closer than that.
There is the heartbreak of today. Sometimes it is the struggles in our families that are in our faces all the time. The job loss or loss of assets. There is the heartbreak of today that cuts each time we look at a spouse that we don’t even know anymore. When we failed the test or exam. When we got the diagnosis. There is the heartbreak of today that hurts each time we think of the family members or friends we can’t reach in faith and love.
What does “brokenhearted” mean? According to the dictionary, “Overcome by grief or despair.” But in real life it is this awful, beyond words feeling. It feels like there is no hope – that it can’t be fixed or can’t get better. It feels like your eyes cannot possibly produce the amount of tears that are welled up inside. It is hard to breathe, hard to move, hard to live.
Then there is the heartbreak of yesterday. Our hearts and our memories have their share of heartbreak – this cumulative heartbreak of life. Standing at the end of the bed in ICU as your loved one’s pulse slowly, gradually descends to zero. The family, friends and people we didn’t let in. All the failures, all the attempts, all the dead ends. The quiet but permanent changes in cherished relationships. When we didn’t make the team. These are shattered pieces of yesterday’s heartbreak.
Which leads to “crushed in spirit.” When we are “crushed in spirit” it is the feeling of absolute defeat. It is like the life has been drained or ripped out of us.
Both of these, heartbroken and “crushed in spirit” seem to have at least one thing in common – they both leave us feeling like there is nothing we can do about them when they are visited upon us…
This verse offers a revelation. Nearness and Hope. Can’t these two make the difference? Nearness in the heartbreak of life; Hope for when all seems lost. When Jesus came into this world, God was nearer than ever before; and with the Holy Spirit’s continuing presence – God remains near. And God saves the “crushed in spirit” – it may not look like the rescue we dream of, but it is God’s character. Sometimes it is through the power of the Word, the presence of the Holy Spirit and even through other humans.
Listen to the lyrics of the song “Broken Things” by Julie Miller, “Then you walked into my darkness/And you speak words so sweet/And you hold me like a child/Till my frozen tears fall at your feet.” This is what Jesus does; this is what we can do for each other in His name.
As you read this, if and when you are heartbroken, if and when you are crushed in spirit, please know God is near and offering you hope.
- Please reflect on some times of heartbreak and how it feels.
- How can we sense that God is near?
- Why does God allow us to become heartbroken and crushed in spirit?
- What can you do for someone else who is heartbroken and crushed in spirit?
Rev. Christopher B. Wolf
“It is a matter of sharing and bearing the pain and puzzlement of the world so that the crucified love of God in Christ may be brought to bear healingly upon the world at exactly that point.” N.T. Wright