“A glad heart makes a happy face; a broken heart crushes the spirit.” Proverbs 15:13
Truer words were never spoken.
Once you are fortunate enough to have made it to adulthood, you have undoubtedly experienced a broken heart along the way. A broken heart can come in many ways and from several sources.
Death of a loved one.
Watching your child or spouse suffer in illness.
Your own diagnosis.
And the list goes on.
It stands to reason that if a glad heart shows on your face, then a broken heart must show there as well.
Like you, I know what it is to experience a crushed spirit. It happens in those times when life is difficult, when you can’t change the circumstances in your own life or in the life of a loved one. When life is challenging like that, you can’t hide it. Try as you may, it’s more obvious than you may want to recognize. Your entire countenance is changed, and those who know you best, can tell. You can speak whatever words you choose, but those closest to you, know when you’re hurting. Your spirit is crushed.
A broken heart crushes the spirit.
I like the way The Message translation words this verse, it says “ A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face; a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day.” Yup.
I think it is safe to say that we have all, at one time or another, had a hard time getting through the day. I mean, obviously we “get through” it, we breathe, we eat, and we sleep. (Sometimes we do very little of any of those, but we get through).
Jesus Himself, was not immune to difficulties in life.
He experienced brokenness in relationships. When He was close to the truth of the cross, and what it would require of Him, His disciples couldn’t stay awake through the night with Him. He experienced betrayal when Judas, one of his own disciples, turned on Him for a small sack of silver. He experienced the death of a loved one when Lazarus was still in the tomb. And He certainly experienced the sorrow of a diagnosis, knowing that for your sin and mine, He would willingly suffer a painful death on the cross at Calvary.
When life was hardest for Jesus, what did He do?
Sometimes, He left the company of others to have some alone time with The Father. In Luke 22:39-46, we see Jesus doing exactly that. He poured out His heart to The Father, and shared with Him all the anguish and grief that He was feeling. The human side of Jesus sought the Father for another way through this hardship. “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me…”. None of us would have done things any different.
I have done that and more when I have been desperate for a better way through my circumstances, than directly through the minefield of my pain. I desire an easier way, a way around.
He surrendered to The Father’s will.
After His time of prayer, and seeking another way, Jesus submitted to the will of His Father. He said “Not my will, but yours be done.” While it is normal, and human for us to seek another way through the difficulties of this life, ultimately, only God can see the whole picture. He sees the way through and the rewards that wait on the other side of sorrow, more clearly than we ever can. So while it is normal and expected for us to seek another way through hard times, continuing to resist the trial doesn’t change the trial. Peace comes when we recognize that God is not the problem, but rather, that He is the answer. He promises to never leave us. He didn’t promise that hard times wouldn’t come, only that He would be our shelter in the storm.
Remember, Jesus had the power and authority to stop His own death on the cross, but He did not. For the sake of all mankind, His great love is what kept Him on the cross. He surrendered. John 3:16 tells us “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life”.
Lastly, He served others.
Once Jesus changed the water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana, His public ministry began. This was the beginning of His journey to the cross.
And on His way there, He chose to serve.
He served by healing the Roman officials’ very ill son in John 4:46-47. He served by casting out an evil spirit from a possessed man in Mark 1:23-28. He served by healing His disciple, Peter’s mother-in-law from a terrible fever. He served the unclean, unapproachable leper by healing him from leprosy in Mark 1:40-45. He served a widow by raising her dead son, and only provider, back to life in Luke 7:11-18. He served by healing an outcast paralytic in Matthew 9:1-8. There is much more that could be listed here, but you get the point, Jesus served despite His own heartache and personal circumstances.
Like He did so often throughout His life on earth, Jesus sets an example for us in difficulty.
Jesus prayed and spent time alone with The Father. He knew that the task before Him would require more than His humanity had to give, so He prayed and asked God for a way out, or a way through.
Then He surrendered His own will and allowed The Father to complete the Best Plan, even though it came at a great personal sacrifice.
And then He served and met the needs of others during His difficulties. I know from my own experience that doing this helps me feel less powerless and discouraged. It brings me joy to serve others, and I am certain that serving brought Jesus joy as well.
John 16:33 tells us this; “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world”.
So, this week, as we all struggle though whatever difficult thing that’s in our path, lets remember Jesus’ example to pray, surrender and serve.
Jesus, I am struggling. Things are difficult and my life feels like a battlefield. Thank you that you are The Overcomer. Lord, I need your help to see the purpose in my pain, but I choose to trust your will. Help me to be aware of opportunities to serve someone who may also be struggling. I desire to use what you have given me to encourage others. More than anything Lord, please don’t let go of my heart as I seek to honor you in all I do.