Someone has said there is a broken heart in every home and there is a broken heart on every pew. That’s exactly right. But the Lord Jesus came to minister to broken-hearted people.
It was August about 15 years ago. I was flying from Mobile, Alabama to Nashville, Tennessee and from Nashville to Miami to speak on a Sunday night. I was sitting on the end, and, sitting right beside me, was a handsome 13-year-old boy. He had an open-collared shirt. He had a gold chain around his neck. He had on a baseball cap. We had been flying for about 15 minutes from Nashville to Miami, and he started crying. I’ll be honest. I wasn’t prepared for that. He didn’t want me to see him crying. Big tears were running down his cheek. He dropped his head, wiped the tears from his eyes, and, fighting the emotions, he reached under his seat and got out his Gameboy and began to play. But do you know what? The pain was so great that, every now and then, he would cry. I didn’t want to intrude into his personal space, but, finally, I struck up a conversation with him. He said, “I’ve been in Savannah, Georgia the last six weeks with my daddy and my cousins. Now, I’m flying back to Miami to live with my mother and go to school.” I thought, ‘Oh, I know why he’s crying. He had a broken heart. He didn’t want to leave his daddy.’ I let him get out in front of me, and I noticed, as he got off the plane, that standing at the gate was his mother. She was so glad to see him. She embraced him. The rest of the day, I couldn’t get him off my mind – a 13-year-old boy with a broken heart.
I preached that night and got up the next morning early to fly back to Mobile. We were flying back out of Miami toward Nashville. Sitting right beside me was an attractive 18-year-old girl. She had some unusual kind of hair. We had been flying for a few minutes, and she dropped her head, and her hair kind of fell over. She stayed that way for about five minutes. She raised her head up, and she was crying. I struck up a conversation with her. She said, “I graduated in June from a high school in Brentwood, Tennessee. I dated the same boy for four years. I left in June. I’m going to school down here in Boca Raton to play volleyball. I went out on an outing. When I came back Sunday, there was a note for me to call home.” Then, she told me the saddest story. Her boyfriend and his friends had been to a concert that Saturday night and had been drinking. Her boyfriend was driving. She said, “They tell me that he reached down to put a tape in the tape deck, and he swerved and hit a car head on, and he died.” And I thought to myself, ‘He died driving drunk.’ Off and on to Nashville, she cried. Her friends were waiting at the gate and ran to embrace her.
By then, God had my undivided attention. I said, “Lord, why did you let me sit beside that 13-year-old boy? There were a lot of seats on that plane. Why in the world did you put me right there beside that 18-year-old girl?” He said, “I wanted to remind you again that you’re living in a world full of broken-hearted people. And they’re not just in the world, they’re in the church.”
I said, “What do you want me to do? What do I say to a 13-year-old boy who didn’t want to leave his daddy? What do I say to an 18-year-old girl whose boyfriend was killed driving drunk? What do I say to people in the pew and who I meet every day? What do you want me to say?”
Have you ever read verses in the Bible that just didn’t grab you, and then, all of a sudden, at a point, they grab you?
Isaiah 61 is a prophecy concerning Jesus. Hundreds of years before He came, Isaiah said, ‘The Messiah is coming. And when He comes, this is exactly what He is going to do.’ We read, in Isaiah 61, 'The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor.’ He said that He has anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor. Look at the next statement. ‘He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captive, the opening of the prison to those who were bound, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.’ Then he gets back to the broken heart – ‘to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.’ Then I realized that Isaiah 61 is fulfilled in Luke 4:16. Jesus went back to the synagogue. He had been baptized by John the Baptist. His fame as the Messiah was going throughout the land. And, in Luke 4:16, it said, ‘He went into the synagogue. They gave Him the book of Isaiah.’ The Bible said, Jesus opened it to Isaiah 61 and he stood in that synagogue where He had grown up, and he said to the people, ‘The spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted.’ Jesus Christ came to die for our sins, to shed His blood, to take our place so that our sins could be forgiven and we could receive His righteousness. But He came to heal your broken heart.
There are three things I want to show you about the ministry of Jesus to the brokenhearted.
Here is the first one. The Bible makes it absolutely clear that Jesus Christ understands and feels your broken heart. He understands and feels your broken heart. The second truth that I found in the scripture is that He is present today, right here and right now, to heal the broken hearted. The third thing is that He invites the brokenhearted to come to Him.
Can I tell you why people have a broken heart? I could go on forever.
A lot of people have a broken heart because of the death of a loved one. Most of the time, they know they were saved. They know where they’re going. Many times, there have been weeks to prepare for their homecoming. But I want to tell you, there is something about when a loved one, one who has meant so much, goes, there is a broken heart that you can’t understand until you’ve experienced it.
Many people have a broken heart because of a wayward son or daughter. Nobody can break your heart like your children.
A lot of people have a broken heart because someone they love is sick, and they can’t fix it. Do you know what hurts? You love somebody. They are getting the best medical care that you know that they can get, and you are crying out to God, but they’re not well yet. I’m going to tell you, when you see them suffer, when you see them hurt, it will absolutely break your heart.
A lot of people have a broken heart because of a lost job.
A lot of people have a broken heart because of their own personal failure. Some of us had dreams and plans, and they didn’t work.
I could go on and on. There are many reasons, wrong choices, traveling down wrong roads, forgiven yet scarred.
Let us look at these three things. First of all, Jesus understands and feels your broken heart. I said, “Lord, I know that Jesus was in all points tempted like we are. I know that He can sympathize with us because He lived on this earth as a man full of the Holy Spirit, tempted but never sinned. I know that He understands our humanity because of His humanity. But would you show me a case in the Bible where Jesus relates to someone with a broken heart.” Do you know where it was? When Lazarus died. We know the story very well. Mary and Martha and Lazarus and Jesus were very close. He had eaten in their home. Mary was the one who had washed Jesus’ feet. In John 11, they sent word to Jesus in Jerusalem that Lazarus was sick. The Bible says that Jesus waited two days and He went to Bethany. He was only about two miles. Lazarus had been dead for four days when Jesus got there. Somebody said to Martha, “Jesus is here.” She gets up, leaves the house, goes outside of Bethany. I want you to listen to the words of a woman with a broken heart: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Nevertheless, I know that you could raise him.” Do you feel her pain? “If you had been here, he wouldn’t have died.” She goes back and tells Mary. Jesus had not yet come into Bethany. She goes to where Jesus is, and she falls at his feet. Listen to what she says. It’s a woman with a broken heart. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.” The Bible says that Jesus groaned and was troubled in His spirit. He knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. He said to Mary and Martha, “Let’s go out to the tomb.” They got out to the tomb, and He said, “Roll the stone away.” They said, “No, he’s been dead four days. We can’t roll the stone away.” Standing at that tomb, Mary and Martha were weeping. There comes the verse…..Jesus wept. Can I ask you why? He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. I know why He groaned and was troubled in His spirit. I know why Jesus wept. Mary’s heart was broken, and Jesus’ heart was broken. Martha’s heart was broken, and Jesus’ heart was broken. Can I tell you something? As a child of God, Jesus Christ lives in you. You’ve gone from darkness into light. You’ve gone from death to life. You know the Son of God. He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. He is present in your life. You’ve never shed a tear that the Son of God, seated at the right hand of the Father, didn’t shed a tear with you. You’ve never walked through a valley that the Son of God did not walk through that valley with you. You may have felt nobody understands. Listen to me. The Son of God understands. When your heart is broken, His heart is broken. A lot of people may not understand, but Jesus understands. He understands and feels and enters into your broken heart.
Here is the second thing the Lord taught me. Jesus is present today to heal the brokenhearted. In Luke 4, He says, “I have come to heal the brokenhearted. This day, this scripture is fulfilled in your ears.” Let me tell you what excites me. Two thousand years ago, Jesus started preaching the Gospel to the poor. Two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ started healing the brokenhearted and delivering the captives and giving sight to the blind and I want you to understand that what Jesus started doing 2,000 years ago, He’s doing today. He has not changed. He is still doing what He has always done. Today, it ought to encourage us to know it’s not me, it’s Him. It’s not our power, it’s His power. He is still preaching the Gospel to the poor, healing the brokenhearted, and delivering the captives and giving sight to the blind, setting at liberty those who are beaten down. Jesus Christ is alive and powerful and at work in our lives this very moment of this very day.
Jesus is present today to heal the brokenhearted. He can heal a heart broken by grief. He can heal a heart broken by guilt. Jesus can heal a heart broken by rejection. He can heal a heart broken by abuse.
Let me tell you the difference between grief and guilt.
Grief is a clean wound. It is not a sin to grieve. Grief is a part of life. A broken heart is a part of life. He can heal a heart broken by grief. You grieve over the death of a loved one. You grieve over the sickness of a loved one. You grieve over the pain and hurt of a divorce. You grieve when your son or daughter is making wrong choices and going the wrong way. Grief is real. But the word of God, the Spirit of God, the presence of Jesus, and the body of Christ can help us heal our heart that is broken by grief. When we’re grieving, we don’t need to isolate ourselves. We need to get into the word of God. And we need to cry out to the Son of God. And we need to ask the Holy Spirit of God to comfort as only He can. And we need to let the body of Christ help us bear our burden. Jesus can heal a heart broken by grief. Grief is a clean wound, and, with time and the presence of Jesus and His word, He’ll heal you.
But guilt is a dirty wound, and it won’t heal until it’s cleansed. The only way we can be healed of our guilt is to confess our sins, to receive the cleansing blood of Jesus and apply it to our heart, and for God to forgive us. Guilt is a dirty wound, and it will not heal until it is cleansed. I’ve found that people rationalize their sin, they justify their sin, they blame their sin. It is rare that you find a person who says, “I accept full responsibility for my sin.” As long as you rationalize your sin and justify your sin, and blame your sin on others, you will never be healed. But the good news is, if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. The guilt is gone. The shame is gone. A part of the new covenant is ‘your sins and iniquities I will remember no more.’ Hallelujah for forgiveness.
Jesus can heal a heart broken by rejection. I’ll be honest. In all of my experience as a pastor, more people had a broken heart because of rejection than any other reason. It kind of goes like this – and I want you to hear me carefully – When someone who should love you and should accept you and should bless you, for some reason – whether it is deliberate or not, it doesn’t matter – when someone who is important to you, who should love you and accept you and receive you, when they reject you, it’s called a broken heart.
I want to tell you something. We’re not plastic. We have a soul. We’ve got a mind. We’ve got emotions. And you say, “Well, it really doesn’t matter.” It does matter. When somebody who is important to you does not accept you and receive you and love you but instead rejects you, it does tremendous damage to your soul, and it breaks your heart.
And here is the tragedy – would you listen to me – rejection is the root, but anger is the fruit. There are a lot of angry people. They don’t even know why. I’m going to tell you why. Because there is a root of rejection and they’ve never dealt with it. They’ve never been healed from it. And therefore they’ve got anger and they don’t even know why. They’re angry because of the broken heart of rejection.
He can heal a heart broken by abuse, whether it is physical or verbal.
Let me go to the most important part of this message. Number 1, Jesus understands and feels our broken heart. Number 2, Jesus can heal a heart broken by guilt and by grief and by rejection and by abuse. We need healing by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Number 3 is this – Jesus invites the brokenhearted to come to Him. I love this verse. This doesn’t come from dead religion. It doesn’t come from critical, judgmental people. It comes from Jesus. He says in Matthew 11:28, ‘Come unto me.’ He is inviting you to Himself. ‘Would you come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me for I am meek and lowly of heart and you will find rest for your soul.’ Jesus Christ invites the brokenhearted to come to him. First of all, we’ve got to come in faith. We’ve got to believe. Listen, I am damaged goods. I have a broken heart. I have a damaged soul. I’m hurting. But I believe that the Son of God can heal me. We’ve got to come in faith.
Second of all, we’ve got to come in obedience. This is the hard part. Most of the time, in order to have our heart healed, we have to forgive the person who broke our heart. Most of the time, our hearts are broken by people -- some people who are important to us, some people who aren’t important to us. But I have found that the heart that is broken is not healed unless we forgive the person who broke our heart.
Let me tell you something about forgiveness. I think it’s the key to the healing of a broken heart. I was reading The Lord’s Prayer one day. ‘Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us of our sins, our trespasses, like we forgive those who trespass against us.’ Do you know what the Lord said to me? Daily bread, daily forgiveness. Can I tell you about forgiveness? It’s vertical. Every day, we need the forgiveness of God. Every day, the blood of Christ needs to be applied to our heart. Forgiveness is not only vertical, it’s horizontal. ‘Forgive me of my trespasses even as I forgive those who trespass against me.’ You’re not going to get healed until you forgive the person or persons or the company or the church or whoever broke your heart.
Can I ask you a question – Why is it so hard to forgive? It’s wonderful to receive the forgiveness of the Lord Jesus, but why is it so hard to forgive people? I am going to tell you, it is a process and it is hard to forgive. I’ll tell you why it’s hard to forgive and why we struggle with it, even to forgive ourselves -- because the pain is real. The pain is real. It’s called a damaged soul. It’s called a broken heart. The pain is real. Whether it is rejection or guilt, the pain is real. When you’re dealing with pain, it is so hard to get beyond your pain to forgive the person who caused the pain. The pain is real, and that is why it is hard to forgive.
Do you know the second reason it is hard to forgive? It’s not an emotion. It’s a choice. If you wait till you feel like forgiving the person who rejected you or abused you or broke your heart or disappointed you, if you wait till you feel like forgiving yourself, you will never do it. Would you listen to me, forgiveness is not an emotion. Forgiveness is a choice. But I’ve got good news. When you go against your emotions and make that choice to forgive, and it’s hard, because it hurts, but you make that choice to forgive, and Jesus begins to heal your broken heart. And he begins to restore your soul. And soon your emotions catch up with your choice.
Do you know the third reason it’s hard to forgive? And this is the main one. Forgiveness does not mean approval. Do you know why I know that? Jesus Christ has forgiven you and forgiven me of all of our sins, and He never approved of a one of them. God doesn’t say I’m going to forgive you, and I approve. He says, ‘Even though I don’t approve and even though that is wicked and ungodly, even though I don’t approve, I forgive.’ This thing of forgiveness not being approval, if you ever get that in your heart – you see, it was wrong, it wasn’t right, it does matter, and it’s not okay. Listen, when you forgive a person, you’re not saying, ‘Well, it’s okay, it didn’t matter, it’s all right, it didn’t hurt.’ No, you’re not saying that. When you forgive a person, it did matter. And it did hurt. And it’s not okay. It’s not all right. And you forgive them even though you don’t approve. Forgiveness does not mean approval.
My heart has been broken many, many times. Most of the time, I live with a broken heart. But I know where to go and you know where to go. Jesus invites the brokenhearted. But you’ve got to forgive the person or persons or the company or the church that broke your heart.
Here are pictures on how to forgive. When you forgive a person, you cancel the debt. You wipe the slate clean. They don’t have to pay anymore. When you forgive a person, you cut the cord. Unforgiveness is like a rope. It’s around your neck. It’s around the neck of the person you haven’t forgiven. And when you forgive them, you cut the cord. You release them. You let them go. You cancel the debt. You wipe the slate clean. They don’t have to pay anymore. You cut the cord. You release them. You’re not dragging them around anymore. You let them go. You forgive them. In Colossians 2, it says there was a handwriting of ordinances against our name. all of our sins. And the Bible says Jesus came and He took the handwriting of ordinances against us and he took it out of the way and He nailed it to the cross. And it said he cancelled the debt. That’s the word in the Greek. He canceled the debt and said you don’t have to pay anymore, you’re forgiven. Cancel the debt. You’ve got to cut the cord now. You’re dragging them around. If there is unforgiveness in your heart, there’s a rope around your neck. It’s a rope around their neck. You drag them around everywhere you go. You could go 500 miles from home. You’ll drag them all the way and they’ll sleep in the bed right beside you, because you’re dragging them around. You’re tied to them. Cut the cord. Cut the cord. Release them. It’s called forgiveness. I cancel the debt. I cut the cord. I release you. I let you go.
Another picture is this. Unforgiveness is like a cage. When people hurt us, offend us, we have a broken heart, and we put them in the cage of unforgiveness. When you forgive them, you let them out of the cage. Pick up the cage and throw it away. And they’re forgiven, hallelujah. And you’re free, praise God, free from the bitterness of unforgiveness. And Jesus Christ is able to heal your broken heart.
Do you know that the key to the healing of a broken heart is to forgive the person or the persons or the group or the church or the job. “But I don’t feel like it.” I know you don’t. “But it hurts.” I know. “But I don’t approve.” I’m not asking you to. But you’ll never be healed, and you’ll never be free, until the spirit of Jesus that lives in you forgives them, just like He forgave you. You’ve got to cancel the debt. You’ve got to cut the cord. You’ve got to let them out of the cage. You’re forgiven for your unforgiveness, and Jesus Christ will heal your broken heart.
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