The emotional pain inflicted on us by others can be far worse than the physical wounds we experience. What is the right ointment for wounded hearts?
Ask God to use you to encourage others through their pain.
"How can you mend this broken man?
How can a loser ever win?
Please help me mend my broken heart,
And let me live again."
These lyrics from a popular song of the 70s, "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?" by the Bee Gees, can certainly make us reflect on our own broken hearts.
Do you have a broken heart now, or have you had your heart broken in the past? Many of us have known what it means to have a huge gaping hole in our hearts left by someone or some set of circumstances. We wondered whether this hole could ever be filled or if we'd be left with that empty hollow in our hearts forever.
There can be many reasons why we are left with a broken heart—the death of a loved one, divorce, loss of a job, loss of status, loss of health, betrayal by a friend, loss of a child and, yes, loss of your childhood. Any of these can leave us a broken man or woman.
Along with enormous blessings in my own life, I've also experienced great sorrow. The greatest sorrow of all was the loss of my childhood and never knowing what a loving father is like.
I never heard my father say, "I love you" or "I'm proud of you." I never experienced what it's like to feel secure, with a strong father in my life protecting me and keeping me safe. This reality has left a hole in my heart—an emptiness that I once felt could never be filled.
Hope for healing the heartache
Even though we have these holes in our hearts, I am here to tell you that there is hope for you and me and all the brokenhearted. There is hope for those who sorrow, because we have access to a Healer who will mend our broken hearts. As Psalm:147:3 tells us, God "heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." He wants to heal us of all of our wounds!
What is a wound? If you've ever had an injury or a deep cut, you know how painful it is and how it hurts to be touched. Often sorrow and loss are like deep wounds. They can be so painful that it seems nothing or no one can make the pain go away. Sometimes our heart is so broken that we can't even express the words, and nothing seems to help.
Like a deep wound, a broken heart will not heal overnight. As some medicines burn when we apply them to a skin wound, so can the words of a well-meaning friend burn when he or she says the wrong thing at the wrong time.
Who wants to pour rubbing alcohol on an open wound? When we injure ourselves, we search the stores to find an ointment that will not burn but will provide relief. It's the same way with our broken heart. We need the right ointment to bring about healing.
So what's the right ointment for hurting hearts? How do we begin to heal? How can the gaping hole in our hearts begin to close? Here are some steps that can help.
Recognize the pain and understand it is okay to hurt. Sometimes we seek to cover the pain by ignoring it or through other means like the use of alcohol or drugs, which will cause us to become infected and will reverse the healing process. Like a deep skin wound, we must apply the right ointment so we can begin to heal, or else it can become infected and get worse. We cannot ignore our pain and think it will go away.
Understand that it is okay to hurt. We try to push the hurt away, but we can't. The hurt isn't outside of us—it's inside. So, in our attempt to push the hurt away, we actually push the hurt deeper inside. We then can spend the rest of our lives running from this suppressed hurt.
By suffering through our hurts, we are a part of the human race—millions of people are going through similar pains. It's during this time that we need a lot of love, encouragement and hope restored. We realize how frail we are and see our great need for God.
Times like these are when we should reflect on the purpose and meaning of life. They're the greatest opportunity to help us draw close to God. They also provide an opportunity to learn empathy toward others who are going through the same things. You can't do all of these things if you try to ignore the pain.
Seek the Healer. Seek God as your Healer! Just as you tell a doctor your symptoms, tell God how much you've been wounded and need His healing touch. He will hear the cries of the broken.
God the Father wants to reach down, take your hand and walk you through your pain. It may take weeks. It may take months. For many of us it will take years, perhaps even a lifetime, to close the wounds of our hearts completely. God will spend as much time and as many years as necessary to help you through it.
He wants to gently apply the daily salve or ointment of His Holy Spirit to your heart until it is healed. I know this because He has done it with me. When I'm down, He lifts me up in many different ways. He's there for me to cry on His shoulder, so to speak, and then sends His encouraging Spirit to get me back up and going again.
Ancient Israel's King David said in Psalm:56:8, "You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your book?" God was so aware of David that He even figuratively collected his tears. In the same way God is involved with us and aware of our pain, our joys, our failures, our accomplishments.
When Judah's King Hezekiah was stricken with sickness and facing death, he poured out his heart to God. God heard him and saw his tears. Moved with compassion, God sent a message to Hezekiah by the prophet Isaiah: "Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: ‘I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you'" (2 Kings:20:5).
God saw Hezekiah's tears. Understand that God can be closer to us when the pain is great than at any other times in our lives.
Returning to David, he was a man who faced many trials and heartaches. And he wrote in Psalm:34:18, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" (New International Version). Ask and receive God's love and encouragement, because He is very near to you. God can work with a heart that has a hole in it, because the need is so great for it to be filled.
Reach out to others. As God has reached out to us, so we should be instruments of God to reach out and help others who are in pain. The apostle Paul praised God as "the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God" (2 Corinthians:1:3-4).
Ask God to use you to encourage others through their pain. By your own pain you will be able to understand and help in a far greater way. Jesus Christ our Savior was tested in every way just as we are and understands all that you go through (Hebrews:4:15). He reached out to us by giving His life so that we would be healed.
Isaiah:61:1-3 discusses Jesus Christ's mission: "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor" (NIV).
This will not come to pass in full until Christ returns to earth to establish His Kingdom here, but in the meantime we should make it our mission to follow this example and be instruments of healing by taking the time to care for those who are in pain and hurting. By reaching out to others, our own pain will begin to disappear; the holes in our hearts will begin to close.
Healing takes time
It takes time to heal. In my life I still have a hole in my heart after many years, but it's much smaller now because of God. Every time I feel His presence, every time I see His intervention in my life, every time I reach out to someone else, every time He grants me blessings, the hole in my heart gets smaller and is being replaced with His own heart.
When our Heavenly Father eventually comes to this earth, the hole in our hearts and in mankind's hearts will be filled and mended. There will be no more tears, no more pain, no more sorrow (Revelation:21:4)—and no more holes to fill in an empty heart. For all our hearts will be filled with God's Spirit.
As Psalm:126:5 promises, "Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy." God will heal all broken hearts. We will no longer feel sad for what we lacked in this physical life because God will fill our hearts and make us complete!