He is close to the brokenhearted
Several nights ago, I was given the incredible gift of attending “A Night for Hope & Healing” for the Newtown, CT community. Amazing artists like Chris Tomlin and Casting Crowns performed, and the speaking was shared between Louie Giglio and Max Lucado. The highlight of the evening was when Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth, had the courage to share their own heartbreaking story of losing their precious little girl. Mary Beth shared that while she still doesn’t have a lot of answers, and she knows she never will on this side of heaven, she does know this: “God is enough. God IS enough.”
God’s presence in that place was palpable. We worshipped our hearts out and gave thanks to a God who is close to the broken hearted, a God who binds up our wounds, and a God who is present to us in our deepest darkest hour. We prayed for the victims and their families, for the town of Newtown, and we declared in a resounding voice, “We have not forgotten. We will never forget.”
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.
When the evening came to a close, the woman sitting next to me gently put her hand on my shoulder and shared, “I don’t want you to think I’m crazy but I just feel like God really wants me to tell you something.” Tears were already spilling from my eyes as I replied, “Oh I don’t think you’re crazy at all. Please tell me.”
She opened her palms and wove her fingers together. “God wants you to trust that He knows you have been brokenhearted. And He wants you to know that He holds your heart in His hands. In the palm of His hands He is holding your heart and He is going to heal those wounds. In fact, He has already begun to heal your broken heart.”
The tears were flowing fast and furious now. People were streaming out of the auditorium but I felt like we were the only two people in the whole place.
I hugged this stranger who I’ve never seen before and will probably never see again and with a grateful heart I said, “Thank you so much for having the courage to share that with me. We have been broken hearted over the loss of our home in Sandy and the chaos it’s entailed but we have felt God’s presence through it all. He has been so near to us- so faithful.”
Looking thankful herself that she followed the Spirit’s nudge to share these things with me she said, “One last thing I feel I’m supposed to tell you…… God wants you to remember His faithfulness to you. Where your heart was broken, there will be a scar -A beautiful reminder that He healed your broken heart.”
I feel it. I already do. I feel like He is carrying us out of the chaos and into a new chapter. I see the light breaking through. And you know the funny thing is, all I can seem to think is, “Oh Lord, let me never forget your faithfulness to me. Let me never forget how close you have been to our family in these several months of confusion and uncertainty. Let me never forget the way that thanksgiving - eucharisto- changes our hearts in our suffering. Let me never forget that every "no" or "not yet" that you answered to our prayers was a "yes" to something so much greater- something we had to be willing to patiently wait upon in you.”
The loss we suffered in Sandy is so wildly insignificant to the loss that was suffered in Newtown, CT. They don’t begin to compare, and there is no point in comparing. What we do know is that God is present not only on our mountaintop, but also in our valleys of suffering and uncertainty- no matter the suffering we encounter. And we know that God is good, not only on the mountaintop but also in the valley.
As Louie Giglio so beautifully said the night of the event, “We don’t worship God because our circumstances are good. We worship God because He is good.”
I’ve said it before but it’s worth saying again – I look around and I see a lot of suffering. A mom with cancer, a brother who lost his job, a child with an incurable disease – these are just a few of the stories of friends dear to me. They suffer – in different ways – but they each suffer. Subtle reminders that this world is not our home and He is our only hope.
And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
But just as I see suffering, I see reminders that God is not immune. He is not distant. He is not surprised. He is not overwhelmed. He is not far away.
He is close to the broken hearted - drawing them unto Himself, whispering, “I know and I love you. I will never leave you or forsake you. I will heal your broken heart.”
He is healing my broken heart. So many reminders in the last week that make me want to put a thousand exclamation points at the end of this verse:
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!!!! (Ephesians 3:20-21)
But even when we are still in the shadow – even when we are in that place of still waiting –- EVEN in that place of questioning and doubt - oh He IS with us - carrying us through, catching each tear that falls, taking our pain upon Himself, binding up our broken hearts, and preparing us for the joy that WILL come again.
Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.
*** If you'd like to receive email notifications when I post new blogs, please click here to subscribe.