Annika Young, Author, 1.cbn.com
“I usually get up pretty early in the morning, spend a little time with my husband, and then we will go spend an hour either taking a 5-mile walk, doing the elliptical, or swimming 70 to 100 laps. I try to get at least an hour of cardio six days a week.”
Chris has always taken pride in staying in shape. But there was a time the exercise could have killed her. She remembers the first time there was a sign of trouble.
“My husband and I were out taking a walk. It was a fall night. And I rounded a corner and I doubled over with horrible chest pain. And we both just looked at each other and said, ‘What was that?’ And it died down and just continued with the walk.”
Chris was reluctant to see a doctor. She lived with the pain, which at this point was infrequent.
“It was something that would happen maybe first thing in the morning or taking a breath of cold air, and then the rest of the 23 hours were fine.”
But over the course of 10 years the problem grew worse, and could no longer be ignored.
“It was happening more often, it was becoming stronger, the intensity was stronger. And it was more life interrupting.”
Finally Chris went to the doctor, and was diagnosed with Vasospastic Angina disorder, a condition where the blood vessels tighten around the heart.
“I came home and read about it and was shocked to find out that one of these episodes could actually cause a massive heart attack and could kill me.”
Chris was told she’d just have to live with it. And that’s what she did for the next two years.
“He told me to keep up my exercise. He said to start with 10 minutes of very easy exercise, to go very slowly and to basically go home and live your life. ‘I can give you some medication for the pain, which I rejected but he said there’s nothing I can do for you. Just go home and live your life.’”
One morning after a work out, Chris was watching The 700 Club, something she’s done faithfully for the past 30 years.
“And I usually always stop and pray when Pat’s praying for people or Terry’s praying for people. And Pat stopped and he said, ‘the Lord’s healing all kinds of heart conditions.’ And I thought, it just –instinctively the Holy Spirit spoke to me. And I raised my hand and put my other hand over my heart and said, ‘Lord, I’ll take that, I’m accepting that, I’m claiming that one for me.’ And went about my business. Months went by. No pain. Gone. Completely healed.”
It’s been a year now and Chris tells her doctor she’s still symptom free. She’s also back to doing the things she enjoys, workouts on the elliptical, laps in the pool and morning walks with her husband Dave.
“I’m living my life. But I’m living it a lot better without pain. And knowing that the Lord had healed me and it’s just another testimony to Him.”
I looked across the table at my boyfriend and replayed his words in my mind. “I just don’t enjoy spending time with you.”
I never knew a heart could break so suddenly, so rudely — in only one sentence. I was desperately grasping for anything to help soften the sharpness of those eight words. I could muster only three: “Take me home.” As we drove, my thoughts were as blurry as the trees going by. How can a three-year relationship end in three minutes?
The term “broken heart” is so widely used in our society that it often sounds romantic. In those moments, I learned just how terribly unromantic it is — the kind of tearing, ripping brokenness that demands your full attention, the kind of pain that won’t let up.
A broken heart might be a woman who gets the call from her doctor that she has miscarried. It’s the child who learns that his father has cancer. It’s broken relationships, debilitating depression, dreams dying and crumbling in our hands.
I walked into church the day after my heart broke. Broken, aching hearts fill the pews in each of our churches every Sunday. Although surrounded by community, the pain still felt intensely personal. “The heart knows its own bitterness” (Proverbs 14:10). The deep ache can feel as isolating as a prison cell. The Enemy wants nothing more than to lock believers in that cell of pain, and keep us trapped in isolation. But God wants the opposite. Here are three things to remember when you are tempted to stay home on Sunday morning with a broken heart.
Broken Hearts Are Open Hearts
“There are many sorts of broken hearts, and Christ is good at healing them all.” —Charles Spurgeon
“God is the only Physician who can fully heal a broken heart, and he has never failed in his ability to heal.”
Imagine your heart is failing and you require a very risky open-heart surgery. At the hospital, there are several doctors who claim to be proficient at this surgery, but only one has a spotless record — nothing has ever gone wrong with his procedures. Everything he does is perfect.
Would you then choose a doctor with lesser experience, or a poorer record? Not if you value your life.
God is the only Physician who can fully heal a broken heart, and he has never failed in his ability to heal. Sarai, David, and Hosea all suffered broken hearts for different reasons — a barren womb, a shameful trail of sin, unrequited love — and God healed them all. A broken heart is an open heart, and an open heart is vulnerable. In this time of vulnerability, let him be your refuge. Let him fill you with healing through the singing, praying, and teaching of your church family.
Pain Is Personal, Healing Is Corporate
Have you ever had a close friend going through a great deal of pain, and they didn’t tell you? It’s painful when you finally learn about it. It’s painful for at least two reasons: (1) it hurts you that they are in pain, and (2) it hurts that you were not trusted to carry their burdens alongside of them.
As believers, we are called to carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). No one would argue that one man can lift more than ten men lifting together. So, why do we often ignore the hands extended to help us carry our burdens, and try to bear the weight on our own? We may always bear the heaviest portion, but encouragement and support from brothers and sisters will significantly lighten the load. Battle hurt with heartfelt singing, loneliness with community, and discouragement with the ministry of God’s word.
Surround yourself with God’s people, and you will see that healing does take a village — and that the village is stronger for it. We must combat resounding pain with resolute worship to the Father, alongside brothers and sisters who can pray with us and for us.
Worship Creates Perspective
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in his wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace.
“Worship puts our pain in its rightful place — under the reign of an already victorious Father.”
Though suffering is never a small thing, God is always greater. Worship refocuses our minds on God’s greatness, and puts our pain in its rightful place — under the reign of an already victorious Father.
As strange as it may feel in the moment, lift your hands in praise and remember that the victory has been won. Remember that the God who holds your life in the palm of his capable hand is leading the victory march. “He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
Standing at the top of the mountain of adoration, we are suddenly aware of our smallness. And it’s not offensive to us at all. We find joy in knowing that Christ is glorious beyond our imaginations and gloriously in control of all things, including every inch or second of our heartache. Nothing can touch you except that which has been carefully filtered through his loving fingers.
Let heartfelt praise remind you of his great love and absolute sovereignty, and let these reminders bring healing to your broken heart. Worship is a balm for even the deepest of wounds.
It Is Well – Streams in the Desert – December 3
Is it well with thy husband? Is it well with the child? And she answered, It is well (2 Kings 4:26).
Be strong, my soul!
Thy loved ones go
Within the veil.
God’s thine, e’en so;
Be strong, my soul!
Death looms in view.
Lo, here thy God!
He’ll bear thee through;
For sixty-two years and five months I had a beloved wife, and now, in my ninety-second year I am left alone. But I turn to the ever present Jesus, as I walk up and down in my room, and say, “Lord Jesus, I am alone, and yet not alone–Thou art with me, Thou art my Friend. Now, Lord, comfort me, strengthen me, give to Thy poor servant everything Thou seest he needs.”
And we should not be satisfied till we are brought to this, that we know the Lord Jesus Christ experimentally, habitually to be our Friend: at all times, and under all circumstances, ready to prove Himself to be our Friend.
Afflictions cannot injure when blended with submission.
Ice breaks many a branch, and so I see a great many persons bowed down and crushed by their afflictions. But now and then I meet one that sings in affliction, and then I thank God for my own sake as well as his. There is no such sweet singing as a song in the night. You recollect the story of the woman who, when her only child died, in rapture looking up, as with the face of an angel, said, “I give you joy, my darling.” That single sentence has gone with me years and years down through my life, quickening and comforting me.
–Henry Ward Beecher
E’en for the dead I will not bind my soul to grief;
Death cannot long divide.
For is it not as though the rose that climbed my garden wall
Has blossomed on the other, side?
Death doth hide,
But not divide;
Thou art but on Christ’s other side!
Thou art with Christ, and Christ with me;
In Christ united still are we.
Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You. – Jeremiah 32:17 NKJV
Jeremiah could not understand God’s request. He had asked him to buy a field in Jerusalem at a time when “the city has been given into the hand of the Chaldeans” (v. 24). This made no sense to Jeremiah. Why would God ask this? God reminded Jeremiah, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” (v. 27).
His request was not a mistake. In fact, God had developed a plan Jeremiah could not understand at first. By buying the land in Judah, Jeremiah was assuring God’s people that He had not abandoned them. It was a sign of His continuing love and care.
How often do we react just like Jeremiah – puzzled by God’s will, doubting and questioning, surprised by the way our lives unfold? We go through situations that don’t seem to make sense. At times like these, we can be honest with God, like Jeremiah was. He would rather we talk with Him than grumble to others. We also need to learn to trust Him, to know that, in every circumstance, He is Almighty God.
Today, commit your way to the Lord. Let Him direct your steps. Ask Him your questions and be honest, always remembering that you can trust Him. He can do all things. Have faith in Him. And remember, His ways may not be your ways.