You remember the last time you dropped a drinking glass on the ceramic tile in your kitchen. It shattered into a million tiny pieces, some so small that you couldn’t see them—until the next time you walked into the kitchen with bare feet. There is no fixing a shattered glass. Even if it was your favorite, could not glue it back together again. You swept it into a dustpan and threw it in the trash can.
In the last post, we discovered who could do a horrible, hateful, and violent act—anyone. Anyone, that is, with a broken heart. But unlike the shattered glass, Jesus heals broken hearts…
“…He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted…” (Psalm 61:1 NIV)
What is the human heart, and how did it break? Read the Old Testament and you find that the Hebrew term for heart appears no less than 590 times! It refers to the “you” underneath your skin. Your heart is what makes you human and what makes you uniquely you. A human heart governs the three functions of personality: thought, emotion, and will. In other words, our heart determines what we think, what we feel, and what we desire.
The Bible tells us that God created the first humans, Adam and Eve. Genesis Chapter Three records the origin of sin. When tempted to disobey God, Adam and Eve gave in. Their story has been known as “The Fall” ever since. When Adam and Eve fell, they crashed hard, their hearts were shattered by their sin. Every person born since The Fall has been born with Adam’s broken heart.
Since the heart controls our thinking, feeling, and wanting, we act out of its brokenness. We can’t help it. In fact, except for Jesus, no one since Adam has known what it is like to be born whole. We try so very hard to act right, but never quite succeed, because it is futile to fix behavior without addressing the core issue, the heart.
Our sin is explained—but not excused—by the fact that we are born this way. It explains why a grandfather shoots his daughter and several of his own grandchildren; why a wealthy businessman files an inaccurate tax return; why a spouse is unfaithful to a husband or wife.
It is in our emotions that we experience brokenness most profoundly. So much so, that we equate emotional pain with a broken heart. It is with our emotions that we feel deeply our broken hearts. The most important question of my life and of yours, is where do we go to fix a broken heart?
The tragic irony is that most people with broken hearts misunderstand their relationship to God. Because I am so broken, the thinking goes, I must be rejected by God. In fact, the opposite is true...
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18 NIV)
If you have a broken heart, you are not rejected by God, you have a reserved place near God. There is a healer—Jesus—for your broken heart.
In the next post we will seek to understand how Jesus heals hearts. In the meantime, you can reach out to Jesus through a simple prayer like this one…
“Jesus, my heart is broken. The more I try to do what is right, the more I end up making things worse. I am truly sorry and need your help. Please, forgive me, and fix my heart.”
Terrorists behead their prisoners and broadcast the video. A gunman invades a grade school and begins to murder small children and their teachers in cold blood. Children are kidnapped and sold into the sex trafficking industry. A father kills his own wife and children before turning the gun on himself.
These acts shock us. We try somehow to explain how these things can happen. How can things go so dreadfully wrong in a person’s life? What compels a person to leave the rails and commit such unthinkable and horrific behavior? We search endlessly for a person to blame or a systemic problem to fix. Desperately, we try to find a way for humans to quit doing these inhuman things.
A few weeks ago, my wife and I ate lunch with my mother-in-law, a godly woman who has served the Lord faithfully for all of her life. One of those dreadful crimes had just occurred and we wondered out loud who could do such a thing? Softly, a scripture memorized long ago tumbled from her lips, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 KJV)
She nailed it. Who could behead a man or shoot a child? Me. You. Anyone. As it turns out, these terrible things are not so inhuman, after all. People follow their hearts, and we have a heart problem. Some of us can pretty up the top layer good enough to fool others and even fool ourselves. But dig deep enough, and the ugly stuff starts to show.
So, here is the bad news: The human heart—every single one—is sickened by sin.
But, here is the good news: Jesus heals hearts.
Have you ever heard the expression, “There, but for the grace of God, go I”? It’s true.
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.” (Titus 2:11-12 ESV)
While politicians, law enforcement, the media, and behavioral scientists are wringing their hands in angst, God’s Word gives the solution. Now, more than ever, let us introduce people to Jesus, because Jesus heals hearts.
The contrast could not have been starker. Driving home from a weekend speaking engagement it dawned on me that I witnessed a miracle that day. The weeklong media blitz surrounding the demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri had reached its peak. If the reports were to be believed, the entire nation seemed on the verge of a racial eruption. But an entirely different scenario was being lived out in another major city not that far from St. Louis.
It is a modestly-sized congregation, some might describe it as a small church. Their pastor, a hard-working, unpretentious family man has led the congregation for nearly thirty years. I could observe no majority ethnicity among the attendees. There are Filipinos, others from the Far East, Latinos, Middle Easterners, African Americans, whites, and many of mixed races. In short, the church represents the multi-racial make-up of its neighborhood.
More than that, the congregation represents the Kingdom of God to its neighborhood. The media cycle of Ferguson, Missouri has run its course but genuine racial issues persist in our nation. Sadly, some masquerading as ministers of the gospel have driven wedges between the races and sought to aggrandize and enrich themselves by enflaming conflict. There exists enough blame to go around, whatever “side” one takes. But in this multi-racial neighborhood a church stands tall as a witness to the reconciling power of the gospel.
In the church we are not blind to color and diversity, we are enriched by it. No symphony can create a more glorious sound than the people of God, diverse yet united, lifting songs of praise to the Lord of all. What I remember most of all from our experience in that wonderful outpost of heaven, are the smiles. Anger, so vividly displayed in the video clips from Ferguson, is replaced by joy among the reconciled people of God.
Sadly, deep hostility between races exists in this world. But all across the nation and the world are thousands of these small bands of harmony we call the church. God has planted the church—yes, your church and mine—to be and to do the will of God on this planet. May God empower us to display the grace of God at work, the light of divine love shining in the darkness of sin and selfishness.
David L. DeGarmo (D. Min.) serves Global University as Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Theology. Along with his wife Ruth, he is also a U.S. Missionary. He has extensive experience as an educator, missionary, and pastor.
David writes an additional blog on a variety of topics. Check it out...