When your heart is broken on Valentine's Day


It's not that other days with a broken heart aren't painful.  It's just that on Valentine's Day everywhere you look, go or listen pink shiny hearts and candy pour like salt on your wounds.

I've waded my way through the gushing pink day with my own busted up heart many times.  This year I do it again.  If Valentine's day feels like a mockery of your broken heart and a deceitful allure to try and find love in cheap thrills I offer these three rescuers:

1) The Lord whose heart was pierced right through is with you and me.

I don't know what broke your heart.  Maybe it's the death of someone you love.  Maybe it's the betrayal of a dear friend.  Maybe it's a prodigal child.  Maybe it's a divorce or a breakup.  Maybe it's a daily hard keeping of your covenant. Maybe it's the rejection you've endured time and time again.  Whatever pierced you through and is causing your physical body to hurt and reel from the wrongness of what has happened or is happening, Christ has felt it in his body too.

"But he was pierced for our transgressions;he was crushed for our iniquities;upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,and with his wounds we are healed." - Isaiah 53:5

Blessed are those who turn to our wounded Savior for healing.  For us, he is enough.  We don't look for healing in chocolates, or wine, or romantic cards, or a dozen perfect thorn-less roses.  Jesus is enough for us.  We hurt, but we know our hurt is not the end of the story.  His brokenness has redeemed ours.  Every weapon formed against us will fail.  Every trap laid, every betrayal, every rejection will only be for our formation into the likeness of the One who saves us.

"no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed,and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment.This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declares the Lord." -Isaiah 54:17

2) Only the Heart-Maker can be your heart-healer

The only one able to heal our broken hearts is the one whose heart was pierced for our transgressions.  Our hearts may break because death has inflicted a crushing wound or because betrayal has stabbed and turned in the place where we loved, but Christ's death and his sin-bearing body swallowed the power of sin and death.  Only Christ, the Word made flesh, the Image of the Invisible God, only he can heal what was meant for destruction.  Only he has the power to bind up our wounded hearts and bring real healing.

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound..." - Isaiah 61:1

Blessed are those who believe that Christ was not only wounded for our transgressions and has the power and the mission to bind up our broken hearts, but he is also the one who miraculously designed our brokenness that he might bring about our healing and the spreading of his glory in our lives.  He breaks us and heals us to cause us to know him for who he really is- the One who lays down his life for us.  There is a cycle of death and resurrection that spreads life in every way he works with his children.  This is his design.  This is his way.

Come, let us return to the Lord;for he has torn us, that he may heal us;he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.After two days he will revive us;on the third day he will raise us up,that we may live before him.Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord;his going out is sure as the dawn;he will come to us as the showers,as the spring rains that water the earth." - Hosea 6:1-3

3) Your broken heart poured out in love of Jesus is like priceless perfume spreading his aroma everywhere!

Your broken heart is not a waste!  The pain you bear is not for nothing.  Christ has borne our sin in his own body!  He has made us one with him.  He has joined us to God in peace and unbreakable covenant.  When we pour out our bleeding heart on him and see our aching lives as his, for his use, for his purposes, for his glory, for an eternal harvest, our cracked up stories become a broken bottle of priceless perfume spreading the aroma of the worth of Christ to everyone in our lives.  Not everyone will smell him as beautiful, but those who do will be drawn into knowing him too.  As Ann Voskamp says, what some mistake for destruction is really growth.  Our lives become a seed, planted and falling apart in this earth to spring up life-giving life.  And Christ says that is a beautiful thing!

"And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, "Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor." And they scolded her. But Jesus said, "Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me." - Mark 14:3-6

Blessed are the ones who see their lives in light of God's great story.  Blessed are those who don't say, "YOLO!"  you only live once,  and suck as much life for themselves out of this broken place as they can, but rather they say, "YOLF!" you only live forever, and let their redeemed lives be planted in this world that others might live and know the worth of the One who has loved us to death!

Dear Beloved Brokenheart, you walk the path of ever lasting life.  You walk hand in hand with the author of such a life.  Let every expression of love you see today be a reminder to you that your life is not your own, you are Christ's, and He is yours, and because of him all your pain is for the spreading of the priceless aroma of the God who so loved the world that he gave his only Son.




Let Down by God?




This past Sunday I stood in a high school theatre with dozens of people I don't know looking up at the screen where the band was projecting the words to the songs we were singing to God:

You're never gonna let
Never gonna let me down
You're never gonna let
Never gonna let me down

When I get to church, the words of every song we sing confront me.  And I hang on every word preached.  I can't mindlessly sing the songs.  I can't snooze through the sermon.  I'm too desperate.  I'm too thirsty.

So when the words to King of My Heart were on the screen Sunday, and I was singing with hot tears, "You are good."  I really meant it.  I really believe Jesus is God and He is good!  But when the words "You're never gonna let, never gonna let me down," came on the screen I stopped singing.  I stood there with heart exposed to the Holy Spirit's searching work and I knew I could not sing those words with honesty.  Instead I uttered a prayer, "Father you know me.  You know I can't sing that.  I confess I feel like you have let me down. But I know you are good. Help me to know you for who you really are."

I think I have a pretty good understanding of the God of the Bible.   I say that with much hesitation.  What I know is a glimpse, a taste of an infinity of truth.  I'll spend eternity never exhausting knowing God.  But I have been very blessed to have been taught by some great Bible teachers and mentors in the faith.  I've spent many hours chewing on the Bible.  I believe the Jesus I have never seen but love as revealed in the scriptures is the one and only God-Man, the Christ.  My creed is the creed Christ's historic and worldwide church has believed and proclaimed for thousands of years.  So when I read words like the words written in the song we sang on Sunday I realize something is amiss.  Either something's wrong with me and my understanding of the God of the Bible or something's wrong with those words cause I can think of 23 years of prayers unanswered that have left me feeling like God has let me down.

I'm not alone in my honest conflict with the words, "You're never gonna let me down."

Throughout the Bible God's people have had to come face to face with the incongruence of the Sovereign God they believe in and the circumstances in their life.

Job had to reconcile the horror he was living through with the God he proclaimed.  He felt the sovereignty of God in his boils and said, "Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face." Job 13:15

Moses questioned God when he had obediently confronted Pharaoh and was mocked and blamed for making the people he was sent by God to free work harder.  "Then Moses turned to the Lord and said, "O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all." - Exodus 5:22

Noemi said it was God who had emptied her.  "Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?" Ruth 1:20-21

Even John the Baptist, who had looked at Jesus and declared, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!" found himself in prison and sent messengers to Jesus to ask if was really the Messiah they were all waiting for.

And there are many, many more examples.

Blessed are the un-offended

When John questioned Jesus' identity, Jesus' response was to point out all that he was doing.  And then he added, "Blessed is the one who is not offended by me."

Gulp.

Was I offended at Jesus in the words, “You’re never gonna let me down?”  Was I offended that Jesus had let me down by not answering my prayer the way I wanted?

The word offended sounds like scandalized in the language Jesus spoke it. skandaliz┼Ź.

Blessed is the one who isn't scandalized by me.

It means to be caused to stumble.  To be caused to distrust the person you should trust.

Jesus is not a soft, yes man, who makes you feel good with positive affirmations.  Jesus is the rock that many stumble over and are offended by.  I stumbled over him on Sunday.  And like Job, Moses, Noemi, David and John the Baptist I have a choice: leave him offended or let the mountain of truth that he is be to me a shadow in which to hide, a rock of refuge to which I flee.

Who Else Is There?

Peter and the other ragamuffin disciples of Christ tripped over him too.  When Christ offered the saving truth that he had come to suffer and die broken, like bread, people were offended.  Those who had thought Jesus was there to feed their appetites in the form of miraculous power couldn't accept the idea that he had come to give life to their perishing souls in the form of a wrath-bearing substitutionary atoning sacrifice.  When Jesus saw the offended folks leave he asked his chosen ones, "Are you going to leave too?"  Peter- I love Peter, quick to speak and quick to trip and quick to fall Peter- opened his mouth and said words I say to Jesus not infrequently, "Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of life. And we believe and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God"

Coming face to face with the reality of who Christ really is, is something we all must and will do.  What we do with who he is is the test of who we really are.

The blessed, oh how happy ones, sorrowful yet always rejoicing, are the ones who look at his sovereignty in his willing brokenness and risen power and say with Job, "Though he slay me, I will hope in him."  We feel let down, but we look up and we hope in him.  We believe and have come to know he is the only one with the words of life.  We know there is no where else to go.  We see his scars.  And we hear his risen promise to dwell in us and with us and we aren't offended.  We love him.  We want him.  By his good grace we won’t leave him.

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