I’m in the business of broken hearts.
It’s a weird thing to say (and an even weirder thing to realize) but it’s true. Have you ever heard the expression, “If these walls could talk, the things they would say”? Well my office walls would have quite the stories. Stories of happiness, of laughter, of celebrations, of joy, and of contentment. But many of the stories would be about broken hearts.
These walls could tell you all about peoples’ insecurities, their sins, their divorces, their embarrassment, their secrets, and their addictions. Some of these stories would even be mine. My walls have seen more tears than can be counted, more shame than can be measured, and more broken hearts than any office should have to see. And I’ve only been here a year and a half.
I remember the first time I felt heartbroken. I couldn’t have been older than 4 and my family was watching a movie called “Snoopy Come Home”. If you haven’t seen this cinematic masterpiece I highly suggest it, but here’s the 30 second synopsis:
We find out, shockingly, that Snoopy had an owner before Charlie Brown, a young girl named Lila. She was forced to give him away but now she is in the hospital sick and she wants Snoopy to keep her company. So, the Peanuts Gang throw Snoopy a tearful goodbye party and he heads off to be with her.
I cried through the whole party scene. What could be more sad than having to give your puppy away? But unlike later heartbreaks, this one resolves in an hour and a half so I wasn’t too traumatized.
I remember my first heartbreak as a teenager, when a boy told me he would never date me because I was ugly. That one didn’t resolve as easily as Snoopy’s, and sometimes when I’m getting ready I still feel the sting of some 13 year old boy’s callous words.
I remember my most recent heartbreak, yesterday, when a high school student shared the hard life they are struggling with and there were no words to fix it or even make them feel better.
We don’t like to share these things about ourselves very often. It makes us feel week, unprotected, and pitied. So, we safety-pin what’s left of our hearts together, we plaster a smile on our face, and when people at church say, “How are you?” we respond, “Fine! How are you?” like it’s a part of the liturgy.
We don’t even like talking about heartbreak that much. We’re afraid that if someone shows us their broken heart our safety-pins may just pop open too. So, we all make a decision to stick with the script. We’re fine. Just fine. Thanks for asking. And when the news, our pastors, or even a friend forces us to focus on heartbreak we say, “How horrible! How terrible! What a world!” and secretly pray that no one brings it up again.
But we have an unscripted God. A God who understands broken hearts. And not just in a cold, scientific, “I’ve seen this in movies” kind of way; but in a real, hands-on, “I feel this everyday” kind of way.
John 11:35 is famous for being the shortest verse in most translations of the Bible. All it says is, “Jesus wept”. But the context around it gives so much power to these two words. One of Jesus’ closest friends had just died. This man’s sisters, who were also friends of Jesus, were in agony. They were grieving. They were heartbroken. And so was Jesus. So, He cried.
And this isn’t the only time in the Bible that Jesus cries. He cries in the Garden of Gethsemane, He cried before entering Jerusalem, and He cried on the Cross. And those are only the times that are recorded! Jesus is no stranger to tears, He too has dealt with the pain of a broken heart.
Maybe this part of Jesus doesn’t fit with your idea of who God should be. But it’s a very real part of who God is. He is a God who created the brokenhearted. He loves the brokenhearted. And yes, He has even been brokenhearted.
But He is also a God who has more in store for the brokenhearted. He doesn’t just leave us, hiding in the dark with our safety-pin hearts. He gives us the Gospel, the news of His death and resurrection, and through it He gives us hope.
It’s a hope unlike anything else on this Earth. A hope that pierces the grieving, the dismayed, the young, and the old. A hope that surrounds our safety-pin hearts, and one day will fully mend them.
Church, I don’t know what your hearts look like right now. I don’t know if you feel like you’ve got all the pain tucked away nicely or if you feel like your safety pins are about to pop. But I do know this, you have a God who loves you so much that no heartbreak can steal away your hope. Trust that promise. Trust that love. Trust that hope.
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:13
Director of Christian Education
Brokenhearted and Hope-Filled
Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church