The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Ps. 34:18 (ESV)
If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath. Ps 34:18 (The Message)
Sometimes it seems that all we hear is bad news. The bad news just seems to pile up and pile up until we aren’t sure we can take it anymore. Sunday started with the news that my brother-in-law is being laid off from him job of twenty-three years. I cried and prayed and cried some more. I made it to church and of course, God always know just what we need to hear. The sermon was on Lamentations 3:20-26. (Look it up!) In a nutshell, He is exactly what you need; He is the hope to keep you going; and He is the help you are seeking. (Craig Groeschel)
Later that afternoon, I got word that the four-year-old sister of one of my son’s classmates had died. She had some medical problems in the past, and passed away due to a heart condition. The news felt like a punch to my stomach. How do you tell a 12-year-old that his sister is not coming back? So, you know what I did? I cried and prayed and cried some more.
Today, I came home from a meeting to find my delightful house cleaner hard at work on our house. I asked her if she was ready for Christmas and her face fell. I thought maybe I had miscommunicated. She doesn’t speak that good of English and I speak absolutely no Spanish so we have some interesting conversations. She handed me her cell phone and I got on the phone with one of her sons. She has five sons. Her son told me that the family had suffered a tragedy and that his 29-year-old brother had committed suicide on Friday. I was shocked and yes, I cried. I went to my house cleaner (I wish I had a better word to call her but I don’t want to use her real name. She is much more than a house cleaner. She is a wonderful person who happens to clean my house.) and told her I was sorry and then we cried together. I had no words. What do you say in the face of such loss? I told her to take the day off, but she refused. She wanted to keep busy and not sit at home. I went to my office and cried and prayed some more.
I then logged onto check my email and I saw that my brother-in-law had posted a tribute to his friend who passed away last night. You can read it here. My heart broke again.
I have not felt so much brokeness in a long time. There have been many times in my life when I let things happening to other people just roll off my back. It didn’t happen to me so why should it bother me. This time is different. The tears roll freely and my heart breaks. It isn’t much fun, but it signifies to me that maybe I have begun to change. Maybe God is doing a new work in my heart. I have been praying Psalm 51:10-12 a lot. The first part of verse 10 says, “Create in me a pure heart, O God.” Maybe that’s what He’s doing. He’s taking out my old calloused heart and putting in a new one that is softer, more compassionate, and more empathetic. I’m praying more and worrying less. I’m learning that He is there no matter what.
I’m praying for all these people I’ve mentioned. (And, I’m not just saying that, I really am! Another change for the better!) I’m sure they’d appreciate your prayers, too.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV)
P.S. If God can change my old hard heart, He can change anyone’s!