A Hard Heart or a Broken Heart

He is reminding all of Christendom in the epochs yet to come that the Lord is lovingly attentive to those who are enduring unimaginable pain.

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I had breakfast with a dear, young friend this week.  I have watched this friend grow from teen-age years now into adulthood and it has always been a delight.

This friend has just been through a very hard season – and is now rebounding from it. One of the things this friend said to me early that morning has echoed through the hallways of my heart. I have thought about it time and time again … and have pondered the poignant truth found in the words that were expressed to me.

This friend said to me through uncontrollable tears, “I would rather have a broken heart than a hard heart.”

Wow … just wow.

Allow those words to penetrate the deep places of pain in you today.

“I would rather have a broken heart than a hard heart.”

I think when we have experienced deep and heart-wrenching pain that one of two results seem to happen … either a hard heart ensues or a broken heart is wrenchingly experienced.

We all have gone through storms and fires and failures and disappointment … but how you respond to those things just might write the rest of your story.

Do you have a hard heart or a broken heart?

There is, indeed, such a thing as a broken heart and the Bible powerfully helps men and women of every generation deal with the issues that break our hearts.

A broken heart will make you wretch with pain and heave with sorrow.

A broken heart will leave you gasping for breath.

Knowing that there certainly are circumstances that have the potential of leaving a parade of broken hearts in their wake, how does a Christian deal with a broken heart?

Is it possible for a believer to grapple with a broken heart in a different manner than non-believers?

God knew that while living this side of heaven there would be people, events, and issues that would break the hearts of His beloved children, and so He has a plan for the most devastating moment in your life:

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” – Psalm 34:18 NASB

The word “broken” in Hebrew is the word “shabar” and it means “to rend violently, wreck or crush; to maim, cripple, to shatter or break.”

Ancient Hebrew is a very descriptive language, and so this word “shabar” comes not only with a listed definition but also with situations that it was used in the description of.

This word was used to describe ships that had been splintered and torn from stem to stern due to ferocious and wild winds.  It was also used to describe the action of tearing and ripping that wild, ravenous beasts performed upon their prey.  It could literally be translated “the ruptured hearted ones.”

When the Psalmist declares that “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,” his words are words spoken with tender care and great compassion.

He is reminding all of Christendom in the epochs yet to come that the Lord is lovingly attentive to those who are enduring unimaginable pain.  

This pain may have been caused by a great tempest in your life or by a wild and ferocious person, but the Lord is standing attentively beside you paying diligent attention to your shattered and bleeding heart.

If you have ever suffered from this torturous condition, I can assure you that you were never out of His care.

If today, you are emotionally torn apart and wonder how you will make it through one more today, I want to comfort you with the surety that He is with you now.   

God is close to you and has wrapped His arms of love around your life; He is hovering beside you just as a caring nurse would tend to a victim of an accident.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” – Psalm 147:3 NIV

No one can mend a broken heart but the Lord. 

Other people’s words will encourage you and bring a measure of healing but the ultimate healing is always from the Lord.

Kind deeds and gestures may remove the sting from a broken heart but nothing and no one other than the Lord can place that crowning healing touch on your life.

He alone has the power, love, and divine skill to actually cure you from the extraordinary pain that you are going through.

God is able to restore your soul and to perform a spiritual heart transplant if that is what it takes to move you into health and hope again. This seems impossible when you have a broken heart but it is not impossible to God!

We can easily understand the concept that the Holy Spirit is endeavoring to communicate through the Psalmist in the phrase, “ … and binds up their wounds.”   

The word picture that is being painted through the Hebrew language is the beautiful illustration of a tailor gently mending and sewing together that which was torn apart.

If you have a broken heart, friend, I know Someone who has the expert skills to easily and perfectly mend it.  

Not only is He able to repair your broken heart but He has the desire to do it.  

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” – Psalm 23:4-6 NASB

And finally, allow me to gently and tenderly remind you that God has not stopped being God because you are in the valley. 

He has not stopped being a God of goodness and kindness because you have a broken heart.

We would all love to spend our lives on the top of a mountain! How we all long to breathe in that fresh mountain air and take in the magnificent view!

We all know that you can see things on the mountaintop that you would never see from the valley. Things take on their rightful perspective from the mountaintop. You are literally on top of the world.

No one would desire to buy real estate in the valley of despair and disappointment. There is an extremely limited vision in the lower places and you are unable to see beyond the next grove of trees.

And yet it is in the valley where vegetation grows and where flowers bloom. There is no growth on the top of a mountain but there are only rocks and boulders.

The top of a mountain is no place to put down roots … that happens in the valley below.

It is in the valley where the most magnificent growth of your life will happen and it is there that the fruits of the Spirit will grow in lush abundance.

May I just say it this wayIn the valley where your heart was broken will be the place of your greatest harvest.

Thanks for listening to my heart this week. As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me. And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!


This is an updated edition of a post originally published on carolmcleodministries.com.

Featured Image by Alexandre Chambon

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About the Author

Carol McLeod is a best-selling author and popular speaker at women’s conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. Carol is a prolific author and loves digging for truth in the Word of God. Carol writes a weekly blog, “Joy For the Journey,” that has been named in the Top 50 Faith Blogs for Women. Carol also writes a weekly column for “Ministry Today.” Carol has been married to her college sweetheart, Craig, for 41 years and is the mother of five children in heaven and five children on earth. Graduates of Oral Roberts University, Craig and Carol have spent the past 38 years pastoring churches across America.