The Bare Soul - September 4, 2011
A Broken Heart

Psalm 34:18 - The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.

We have all experienced loss. Whether it is the passing of a friend or relative, or possibly the loss of a beloved pet, most of us have undoubtedly experienced heartache over a loved one that is no longer with us. Some have probably heard of a long-time marriage being shattered by the death of the husband or wife. I can remember my Uncle John and Aunt Maude. I really only recollect one visit with them when I was about 11 years old. I do remember how devoted he was to Maude, speaking tenderly and kindly to his sweetheart. They were both in their 80s at that time and had been married for many decades. I recall hearing a few short years later how Maude had passed into eternity. Uncle John buried his beloved and was grief-stricken, bereaving the loss of his mate. He lived several more years, but I am told they were lonely years. While he did live to a ripe old age, I suspect that when his heart finally did give out that it was due partly to his great loss. Many of us know of similar circumstances regarding a loved one who was never quite the same when their spouse was taken. While love of this type is certainly remarkable and well worth commending, I believe it is only a shadow of the love that God desires us to possess for all mankind. I believe He gives us earthly examples like the aforementioned to illustrate His great love toward all humankind. However, He desires that we take the analogy to a higher level and understand that His love is infinitesimally greater than anything we could ever experience regarding our greatest love while upon this earth. Even more remarkable is the reality that He loves those who disregard Him. His love is never diminished no matter how much He is spurned. To comprehend the pain of a broken heart for someone we miss terribly is one thing. To experience a broken heart for those who continue to reject us is quite another.

As stated, it is terribly vexing to lose someone close. It can truly be heart breaking. We are told that the prophet Ezekiel lost "the desire of his eyes" in a moment's time. The prophet prophesied regarding his loss stating: And the word of the LORD came to me saying, "Son of man, behold, I am about to take from you the desire of your eyes with a blow; but you shall not mourn and you shall not weep, and your tears shall not come (Ezekiel 24:15-16). The Lord took his bride away as a sign to the obstinate nation of Israel, and yet he gave the seer grace to not mourn and languish regarding his loss. Why would the Lord do this? It becomes evident in verse 23 that the prophet had become a sign to Israel's indifference toward sin (Ezekiel 24:23). What should have been a heart-breaking experience for Ezekiel concerning the loss of his wife had become a sign to the wayward nation of their hardness of heart toward sin. God demonstrated through the prophet how far they had divorced themselves from mourning over their iniquity. Through this allegory, the Lord showed them that their heartless empathy toward their own transgressions against a holy God was their undoing. Nothing is related to the reader in this passage concerning the reaction to Ezekiel's lesson. However, the Lord made His point and we can be sure that whether the nation of Israel grasped the importance of God's message, the prophet undoubtedly did. We are told from verse 15 that she was the desire of his eyes. How much more was the captive nation of Israel to their Heavenly Father as He used His servant to illustrate!

Another example comes to mind regarding how the Lord used an analogy of a broken heart to show His great love for the wayward nation of His affections. Imagine loving someone with all your heart day after day, year after year. However, a problem becomes increasingly evident when this love is not reciprocated. The prophet Hosea was commanded to marry the harlot Gomer and to pursue her affections even after she had enough of married life, returning to her former life of prostitution (see Hosea, chapters one and two). Even though they had children by their God-ordained union, this was not enough to provoke Gomer to a monogamous relationship with her spouse. While it is not clear what happens to Hosea's first wife, we are told in Hosea chapter three that he is again to love a harlot and to cherish her as his wife. To marry one prostitute was degrading enough. Women of their kind were at the best shunned, and at the worst, stoned to death for their infidelity. Here, in the space of three chapters, we find Hosea with a double humiliation of engaging in a seemingly unholy union. While this probably gave the hyper-religious much to gossip about, we can easily surmise that God caused a great love in Hosea's heart toward his two brides. For there to be a strong correlation between God's broken heart for His people, He must have given similar heart breaks to the prophet. The message was clear to Israel through his obedience. However, we can judge by history that the oracle was largely unheeded (Hosea 4:11-14).

Brokenness of heart is not novel to the human race. Truly, it is only possible because our Heavenly Father's heart is susceptible to the same. When we get a glimpse of the great love that a husband might have for a wife, we should pause and consider the One whose heart breaks daily for a stubborn and rebellious world. His heart certainly overflows with a depth of love that we can only imagine with our temporal beings. As mortals, we have the ability to suffer loss and to have a heart break in anguish. I believe that the Lord would have us all take the examples of those who love deeply and mourn over a love lost. He would desire that our hearts would break in prayer and acts of mercy for those all around us. Are we willing to have our hearts broken with a love that comes from above? If we are, we will be characterized by a heart that cannot contain God. It will "leak" out to everyone that it touches. Love is not to be kept, but given away as soon as we receive it. Let not the world watch and wait any longer for those who would pursue them for the Savior. May we be that generation that reaches out and allows our hearts to be broken for Jesus Christ's great sacrifice. May the Lamb receive the reward of His sufferings by us embracing His brokenness for this lost world.

Fairest Lord Jesus, thank you for Your love for all humankind. May we experience Your great love through the brokenness of Your heart for the billions of souls on this terrestrial ball. May we love no matter the outcome, but to lay down our lives as You laid down Yours. We praise and exalt You. In Your precious Name, Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

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