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God Heals the Broken-Hearted

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God Heals the Brokenhearted

Introduction: Statements like this title certainly appeal to everyone.

They appeal to each of us because we enjoy some forms and levels of attention from others, especially when we are having a bad day. Even those with aversion for empathy or appreciation, still welcome some affirmation. This is why some verses and statements in the scriptures always uplift our spirits and minds, and we want to appropriate them to ourselves since they make our real, or exaggerated or imagined trials, challenges, and efforts seem more bearable and appreciated. Think about this promise in Jeremiah: “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the Lord—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.” (29:11) or Jesus’ saying in Matthew: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” (11:29). We can agree that these statements are quite uplifting and encouraging, just as hearing that ‘God heals the brokenhearted’ (cf. Ps 34:18). Now, we want to discuss what it means to us as we enjoy the healing and salvation the Lord Jesus brought to humanity. But before we examine what God is actually doing for the brokenhearted, we recognize that sometimes it is beneficial to look at other bible translations to get a clearer view and understanding of a text and its context, since going to the original language might be a bit challenging. So how do other translations present the text?

The Quote in other translations

 

Here we simply read the same quotation as translated in a few randomly selected Bible versions, which would provide better, proper, deeper, and bolder views and understanding of the text and context. Now, in the New American Bible Revised Edition we read: “The righteous cry out, the Lord hears and he rescues them from all their afflictions.” (NABRE). New King James Version says: “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart and saves such as have a contrite spirit.” (NKJV). And the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition says: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (RSVCE).

 

From these we say that God understands how we feel, and that the broken hearted then are the righteous ones, the humble and contrite ones, those who suffer for the sake of their belief and those who rely on their faith in God. These are the ‘Anawin of Yahweh’ who put their trust in God, accept God’s will in their life. They might not necessarily be those who have just fallen into disrepute or hard times and are the architects of their own heartache.

Some characteristics of God’s healing: According to God’s way and will

It is very likely that when we read that ‘He heals the broken hearted’ (Ps 34:18), we will appropriate this promise consciously and unconsciously as the ones being addressed, and then we are uplifted and consoled as to how life is treating us unfairly, even if this consolation lasts for only a short time. In the end, God is near, he saves, and he hears the cry and prayer of the afflicted. However, he does this according to his will, as we see in his taking his time to go and heal Lazarus until he had died (Jn 11:1-15). From this, God heals not just the body but more of the spirit, for those able to accept the will of God in their life.

Healing comes as we open to God’s grace - This healing is for the most part a continuous and ongoing process as in the apostles’ continued open encounter with the Risen Lord in the post-resurrection experiences.

Healing continues with our growth in consciousness - The healing comes as we consciously step from weariness (weary because of sin, sickness, war, ill health, drug abuse, violence, injustice) to wakefulness (see growth & hope, never tire of hope, never give evil and sin the final say).

Healing comes as a need – He heals one to the extent that one needed to fulfill one’s mission at each stage of one’s life. The complete fullness of healing is only realized with the victory over sin and death in heaven, when he calls his servant to himself so that where he is, his servant would be (cf. Jn 14:1-3).

What God is actually doing: The relational way of perception.

One might ask, if those healed or raised up would still suffer and die, what is God actually doing? He is training us in the relational way of perception in contrast to the linear way. As we know, while some look at the world in a linear way, others see the world in a relational way. With linear perception things move from point A to point B in ‘normal’ mere human logic. With a relational perception, things are in a series and circular relational mode. For the most part, things with God are seen in a relational way, for his thoughts are not our thoughts or his ways our ways (cf. Isaiah 55:8). Think of the incarnation, where the creator incarnated to become one with the creature, and the created became the mother of the creator. This gives a different understanding of God’s healing, which for the most part is not how the grief-stricken would usually want it. God heals in his way, at his time, to whomever he wants, and for whatever his purpose is, which the brokenhearted must accept with equanimity.

He gives His own kind of peace: It is interesting that Jesus spoke of bringing peace, while he knew that his followers would be persecuted. As he said: (Jn 16:33) “I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” Jesus did not mean victory just over the body but spiritually over the heart. This understanding gives his own peace (Jn 14:1-3) “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me… And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.” As he said: “Peace, I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid”. (Jn 14:27). This is the gift of His peace in the heart/mind (Phil 4:7).

Removal of our hearts of stone. Here, think for a moment that it was from Jesus’ broken heartedness that new life and salvation arose. Broken heartedness might be the process of removal of our stone heart and replacing it with the heart of flesh as God promised he would do for his people (Ezk 36:26). Perhaps Khaled Anatolios is be referring to this idea when he said at a Good Friday homily: “Among the great constellation of mysteries that we celebrate today, there is the great and strangely wonderful mystery of the breaking of our hearts. How is it that as we look at the one we have pierced, as we behold the one that has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows and was wounded and killed for our sins - how is it that the breaking of our hearts as we behold all this fill us with a deep peace that the world cannot give…” (Feasts for the Kingdom, 154). That is to say that as through the broken heart of Jesus, new life and deep peace came to humanity after the fall of the first Adam, so also through our broken heartedness, new life is unleashed in us. As through the cross of Christ joy returned to the world, so also through our crosses in following the Lord, his peace and joy come to renew us in our innermost being.

Darkness and evil do not have the final word in our life: This is a statement of faith. One must come to terms with it when life vicissitudes come calling and when it’s a struggle to move on in the spiritual life. As with the apostles, who did not only profess faith in the Risen Lord, but also had to persevere in it, it is one thing to profess faith but another thing to persevere in it when it leads to pains, trials, attacks, division, etc. Seen also with Mary Magdalene who was a sinner, she found Jesus as she kept seeking him and did not allow her emotions to have the final word. Peter, John, and others denied him and ran away at first, but their fears, doubts and sadness did not have the final say. They overcame as they opened to grace and healing in their encounter of the Risen Lord, which led to their growth and perseverance amidst persecution and suffering. In the end, when he heals and saves the broken hearted, he prepares them for more heartache. But “…all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Rm 8:28).

He heals and saves so we can go and tell the good news. We read: “Then the high priest rose up and all his companions, that is, the party of the Sadducees, and, filled with jealousy, laid hands upon the apostles, and put them in the public jail. But during the night, the angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison, led them out, and said, ‘Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life.’” (Acts 5:17-20). Think of the two men on the road to Emmaus who he healed of their doubts and disappointments; it saw them return to Jerusalem to tell the disciples about the good news of Jesus’ resurrection. (Lk 24:13-35).

He heals so that we value God more than anything: Healing encourages a life of prayer and praises: Hence we read: “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7). So, as Jeremiah prayed: “Heal me, Lord, that I may be healed; save me, that I may be saved, for you are my praise.” (Jer 17:14). This means a life where one values God more than anything, with an intense love for Jesus and a profound prayer life as St. Teresa of Avila learnt, and stated: “Let nothing disturb you, Let nothing frighten you, All things are passing away; God never changes. Patience obtains all things, Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices.” (cf. Colleen Carroll Campbell, My Sisters The Saints,19)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saint of the month: St Gemma Galgani (1878-1903).

 

As Gina Loher said of her: “Some people have tough lives. No matter what suffering they overcome, another trial always seem to be waiting in the wings. Gemma Galgani is one of them…” (Real women, Real Saints, 37). Her mother passed away when she was 8, her brother when she was 16, and her father when she was 18. She then had to care for her 7 siblings. She became sick with spinal meningitis at 20, but through her prayers, she was healed only to receive the special gift of the stigmata. She declined 2 offers of marriage to be able to enter the convent, but they would not accept her due to health concerns. With the help of her spiritual director, she found a family that took her in with the opportunity to practice her devotion and prayer. Eventually she contracted tuberculosis and died at 25. Gemma Galgani can help us in understanding the hope of the brokenhearted. Her feast day is April 11.

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