Heart Lessons

What do you know about broken hearts?  Do you have one now?  Have you had one, but it has healed?  I expect some readers of this blog will be experts on broken hearts.  I know more than I want to know about a broken heart. This is my story of in a nutshell:  I am soon to be 65 years old, my father died in 1985, my mother died in 1994, and the only child of Larry and me is Jennifer, who died at age 21 in 2002.

It has been ten years since her death.  Am I healed?  No.  Am I better? Yes.  I look at the past ten years as a journey, and some days that journey took me through the valley.  I’m no expert on how to mend a broken heart, but I’ve learned some things along the way that might be helpful to others. Since most of us had a broken heart at some time, it’s really a matter of perspective as to how hard it is to heal a broken heart.

As any good English teacher would do, I did some research on broken hearts.

1.  First, a definition.  Knowing its limitations, I still wanted to see what Wickipedia says about this metaphor. “A broken heart (or heartbreak) is a common metaphor used to describe the intense emotional pain or suffering one feels after losing a loved one, through death, divorce, breakup, moving, being rejected, or other means. The phrase refers to the physical pain one may feel in the chest as a result of the loss.”

Notice how many ways a person can have a broken heart.

2. Next, a Google search led to “”.  It began with this introduction

“Welcome to Broken Heart Quotes.

Unfortunately, at some point in life, we all experience a broken heart. Fortunately, our hearts are strong and the love that exists within our own heart will mend a broken heart. . . If you are suffering a broken heart today, we send you love.”

 I don’t know why they call it heartbreak. It feels like every other part of my body is broken too. ~Missy Altijd

Have you ever been hurt and the place tries to heal a bit, and you just pull the scar off of it over and over again. ~Rosa Parks

 3. Broken Heart Syndrome

I even found information on a medical condition. Broken heart syndrome is commonly blamed for the death of a person whose spouse is already deceased, but the cause is not always so clear-cut. The condition can be triggered by sudden emotional stress caused by a traumatic breakup, the death of a loved one, or even the shock of a surprise party.[3] Broken Heart syndrome is clinically different from a heart attack because the patients have few risk factors for heart disease and were previously healthy prior to the heart muscles weakening. The recovery rates for those suffering from “broken heart syndrome” are faster than those who had heart attacks and complete recovery to the heart was achieved within two weeks .[4]

A study has shown that a broken heart hurts in the same way as intense physical twinge does. The research demonstrated that the same regions of the brain that become active in response to painful sensory experiences are activated during intense experiences of social rejection. “These results give new meaning to the idea that social rejection ‘hurts’,” said University of Michigan social psychologist Ethan Kross, lead author of the article.[5]

4.   Biblical Search

How often does the Bible speak of heart or hearts? can get the answers so fast!

In the King James Version – 762 times plus an extra 114 if you include ‘hearts’.
In the New International Version – 541 times plus 205 plural.

These are some of the most familiar passages:

  • Love the Lord your God with all your heart  Deut. 6:5
  • Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. I Sam 16:7
  • Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34
  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart. . . Prov. 3:5
  • Your word I have treasured in my heart . . .Ps119:11
  • These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are from me. . . .Matt 15:8
  • For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.  2 Chron. 16:9

After Jennifer died, I read every book that looked helpful, searching for some answers.  I found John Eldredge’s book, The Ransomed Heart, to be very helpful.  He says,

“The story of your life is the story of the journey of your heart through a dangerous and beautiful world.  It is the story of the long and sustained assault on your heart by the Enemy who knows who you could be . . . and fears you.  It is the story of the long and mysterious pursuit of your heart by the God who truly knows you and loves you deeply.     

5.  What does God’s word say about broken hearts?

Isaiah’s message of promise:   This passage from Isaiah is repeated by Jesus in Luke 4.  Jesus reads from Isaiah in the synagogue and then tells the audience that these words are coming true.   Chapter 61:1-3 Isaiah promises that the Messiah will come to do these things.

“Lord has put his Spirit in me to:

  • tell good news to the poor
  • comfort those whose hearts are broken (bind up the brokenhearted NIV)
  • tell captives they are free
  • tell prisoners they are released
  • announce the time the Lord will show his kindness
  • comfort all those who are sad
  • help the sorrowing people of Jerusalem

Brokenhearted is not a metaphor in this passage; the literal meaning in Hebrew for leb shabar  (leb=heart, shabar=broken) is heart broken.

Shabar describes a bush with dry twigs, broken off like idols shattered on the ground or a statue shattered into a thousand pieces.

God says literally, “Your heart is now in many pieces.  I want to heal it.” When your heart is in many pieces, sometimes these words are the only ones you can hang onto. In the first few months after Jennifer’s death, I needed every connection of faith I could find.  I held on like a drowning person; some days that was enough.  Other days were very dark and painful.  I’ll share some of my journal entries in the future blogs of Heart Lessons.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds (Psalms 137:3)

Click here for a printable card (pdf) with this Scripture.  Psalms 137


4 thoughts on “Brokenhearted

  1. Carrie

    This is beautiful… and helpful. “Devastating sorrow and despair” is another definition. I lost my father two weeks before my first child was born… neither of my children then knew what it was to have a grandfather. That hurt. Also, more than once in my life, I’ve also experienced it with an overwhelming disappointment of a long-sought goal being denied due to the unjust action of another.. I think neither of those would be the sharp, intense pain that you felt with the loss of Jennifer. Yet, the enduring ongoing pain is not something that the Lord wants us to live with. I know that I need to trust the Lord more: The Proverbs 3:5 quote that you mentioned is one that has sustained me… especially the next few words that follow. I constantly need reminding to “lean not on [my] own understanding”, but rather to “Trust the Lord is all [my] heart”.

  2. Therese Williams

    Martel Joy,

    When the pain is great, it is because your LOVE was great!!


    Superintendent of Catholic Schools Diocese of Nashville St. Mary Villa, 30 White Bridge Road Nashville, TN 37205 (615) 760-4403 FAX (615) 353-7972 ________________________________

  3. Pingback: SET UP SIGNPOSTS | countingjoyblog

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