An Aching Heart

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

“I just don’t want to hurt anymore!” Who hasn’t said that at some point in their life? Whether our heartache is from loss, grief, betrayal, harsh words or unfair treatment, it all hurts. For a lot of people, the immediate tendency is to try to escape the pain instead of dealing with the source of the hurt.

Congenital analgesia is a medical condition where the person feels no pain in their bodies, even though they remain sensitive to touch. This condition can be life-threatening because pain is our body’s warning signal that something is wrong. Our emotions, feelings and intuitions serve a similar purpose. There have been times in my life when – due to depression and/or suppressing my feelings – I effectively became numb to my emotions. I felt nothing…no pain, no joy…nada. Feeling nothing does help for a while. It gives us time to heal and move on without enduring the ongoing, soul-sucking agony of a broken heart. But continuing to repress or suppress our feelings can open us up to another kind of injury that we may not even be aware of.

Children of addicts frequently must learn to identify and reconnect with their emotions during therapy before they can begin to heal from the collateral effects of an abusive and neglected life. They feel hopeless, let down and rejected so often that they learn to shield their hearts from the hurt and disappointment, and they eventually lose touch with how authentic emotions make them feel. While that is an effective coping mechanism, it also shuts them off from a whole world of good emotions. They learn at an early age not to trust feelings like love, joy and hope because there is so much pain and suffering in their lives connected with those emotions that they effectively just shut them off. At the root of it, they come to believe it is their fault and they are unlovable. Deep down, their hearts tell them if their parents loved them, they wouldn’t do the things they do, and it becomes their shameful, unacknowledged secret. While this may seem like an extreme example, people who sustain ongoing pain in a relationship or their life situation often do the same thing. Without even realizing it, we can shut off a part of our emotional makeup that causes us continual pain.

God’s perfect design for us includes a whole gamut of emotions, and each serves its purpose in our lives. Just as our nerves tell us when something is wrong with our physical bodies, our emotions serve our spirits in the same way. When we intentionally ignore what God has given us, we risk further damage to our hearts, minds and spirits. While heartache is uncomfortable, working to resolve it is far preferable to shutting down and losing touch with who you really are, even if the resolution process is extremely uncomfortable. Your emotions are valid, God-given gifts, and cannot, therefore, be wrong or bad. If you are feeling a certain way in a certain situation, there is a reason why. Don’t let someone tell you to ignore your instincts or that still small voice that tells you this is not right – even if that “someone” is you! The next time that happens, resist the urge to suppress it, and explore it; think about why you feel the way you do, then pray about it and ask God to help you resolve it the way he designed you to, with a soft heart and a discerning spirit. He is Jehovah Rapha, our Great Physician, and there is nothing that comes into your life that he can’t fix, no hurt he can’t heal, and no stress his peace can’t soothe. He loves you with an unending, all-encompassing love from which nothing can separate you. He is always there, always faithful and will never turn his back on you, no matter what.

“A broken heart is truly a blessing…

it is an aching reminder of your great capacity to love.”

~ Risa James

Prayer: Father God, thank you for loving us so much and designing us so perfectly that our spirits tell us when something isn’t right. I lift up to you today those who are hurting, for whatever reason. Holy Spirit, fill them with your peace that surpasses all understanding, your strength to stand when their spirit is broken, and the insight and discernment to recognize when they need your help. Overwhelm us with your perfect love and draw us into your presence; acquaint us with Jesus, the model of your love so that we can recognize the difference between your truth and what the world tells us is love. We praise you and thank you for your presence in our lives in Jesus’ name, amen.

Additional Scriptures:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

“News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them.” Matthew 4:24

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

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