God’s Heart for the Brokenhearted

18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
— Psalm 34

This passage has been on my heart for the last few weeks. Since the anniversary of Kara’s Homecoming, I have felt the fog of grief starting to lift. I feel like I’m getting used to living with the pain of her absence, like we are finding our new normal. But in the midst of this, I have also started suspecting that I am coming out of a depression that I didn’t realize I was in…I think my mind just jumbled it in with my grief.

I’m guessing it goes back about 18 months to when Kara’s decline really took hold. I remember being deeply sad all the time. We all were! And I think that my sadness morphed into depression which is just now being exposed as I see evidence of light in the darkness. Enough light is creeping in through the cracks for me to see where I am.

I feel like I am waking up from a long sleep—the kind in which you feel dead to the world and your back aches from sleeping so hard in one position. I have more energy, more focus. I can read again. It’s more than the fog of grief lifting—it’s the familiar rescue out of my dark lions’ den of depression. As I ponder the last 18 months, I am overwhelmed by God’s hand in my dark den, how he held me close in my pain and confusion. How tender his embrace has been, gentle his voice. How he protected me from despair.

I am grateful. We serve a God who calls us his children. Who loves us, pursues us, delights in us. Regardless of how we feel, his love never, ever wavers. God is always moving toward the broken and hurting. Always. He doesn’t stand still, he doesn’t wait for us to find the energy or motivation to come to him; he is always moving, always pursuing.

God’s heart is for the brokenhearted.

I’m learning that God doesn’t just meet our needs in general ways—he meets our needs in personal ways; he sees our pain and he understands it better than we do. He knows what our hearts need. He knows how to love us. I’m learning that God exposes our pain so he can heal us. That pain doesn’t just fade or become smaller in his presence; it gets healed. In his ways and in his time, which bring him glory and bring us redemption. Someday, all our pain and hurt will be undone.

And when God exposes our pain, we are not shamed! There is no shame in Christ. This is God’s opportunity to tell us who we are in his eyes, what our true identity is, how he loves us, how he will meet us in those shameful, exposed, broken places. He doesn’t ignore these things. He doesn’t waive them off. What we think will reveal us for the ugly, undesirable person we fear we are is actually where God speaks truth and combats our lies by reminding us—convincing us—of his delight in us, of his furious love.

My husband Aaron and I were good friends before we started dating. We spent a lot of time together and got to know each other well before he pursued me romantically. For a long time, I was disappointed in that part of our love story—I had wanted to attract his attention from across a crowded room. I wanted his heart to be struck upon first seeing me. I wanted to be irresistible to him. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I like our love story just the way it is—I never have to fear that as I lose my youth and beauty, I will lose Aaron’s love. He chose to love me; he decided I was lovable. I didn’t earn his love or attract his attention with outer beauty. And when he fell in love with me, I felt transformed by his love—I was lovable because he loved me.

I see how Aaron’s love so beautifully reflects God’s love in that way—I have no option for earning God’s love. I couldn’t, even if I tried. I can’t fix or restore my brokenness. What I struggle to believe is that God chose to love me, and that has made me lovable. In my darkest days, I have never left God’s hands. Regardless of how scarred, broken, or ugly I feel, God’s pursuit and love never end. He never tires of pursuing us; we never run out of chances. God’s grace in proving his love for us never expires!

I am learning that God doesn’t just see us in our deserts or lions’ dens; he is there with us. He will never leave us. He is not outside the mouth of my lions’ den with his fingers crossed, hoping I’ll survive, shouting platitudes at me. Nay. He is sitting next to me, arms around me, loving me, holding me, working to convince me of his love and passion. He is restoring me even in my pain and misery. He is always working toward redemption.

God is showing me that pain and shame are gateways to communicate his love for us. He uses our brokenness as a way into our hearts, as a door into whispering truths of love into our scabs and scars. Without pain and transformation, how can we begin to know the depths of his love? His love reaches us in the deepest, darkest places.

What is the criteria for God’s pursuit? If we are his children, there is no criteria. The criteria was met by Jesus on the cross. We don’t have to solve our problems or get our acts together to get his attention or his approval; we already have it because of Jesus. God is pursuing us constantly. He is in the business of redemption. It is his character. He is relentless in his pursuit. Even when others let us down and disappoint us, God won’t. He can’t! We can’t endanger his love and pursuit of us. Thank you, Lord, for your steadfast love for the brokenhearted, for always being near.

In what ways do you struggle to believe God loves you relentlessly and furiously? In what ways do you doubt his pursuit of you? What are the scabby, scarred parts of your heart you fear can’t be healed? Are you willing to pray to trust God with those areas? To ask him to convince you that he will undo even your deepest hurts someday?