Take heart

“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.

Broken relationships.

Job losses.

Death of a loved one.

Watching your child or spouse suffer in illness.

Your own diagnosis.

World events.

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?  

He Prayed

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.



Dare to share

Have you ever felt like you were the only one that struggles with something?  Like what you are going through is unique to just you and no one else could understand?  Or maybe you’ve felt that even though others have been in a similar situation, they surely “handled it” better than you did?  Like they were far more spiritual and steady than you are, and therefore, you are failing…..maybe even failing in your faith?

Photo credit: Krissy Basham

I recently sat in a room with some women as they shared their stories.  They talked about their life experiences and their heartaches.  One was raised in an abusive home, and experienced years of pain and grief.  Another became pregnant at a very young age.  Another wandered from the faith she was raised with as the years of life grew on her.  Another has experienced addiction.   

As I listened to their stories, I couldn’t help but to be in awe of them!  Sharing their stories took courage!  But something else happened when they shared.  The others in the room had the courage to also open up about their own struggles. 

God promises that we are never alone in our trials.

Isaiah 41:10 says “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

God assures us many times in His word that He is always with us.  That He will never leave us.  That we do not need to walk this life alone.

But the enemy likes to isolate us and make us believe that we are alone.  He whispers the lie that “No one struggles with this like you do.” And “Her faith is stronger than yours is, so this is easier for her to go through.” How about this one, “If you share that part of your life, they will think badly of you.  It’s better to keep it to yourself until you fix it….”.  Lies.  

The enemy is constantly trying to keep us from community, from fellowship with Jesus and with others.  I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “strength in numbers”?  There is such truth there.   When we choose to be connected to the body of Christ through church, small groups, and bible studies, we are exercising that principle.  We are placing ourselves in community with others for support and encouragement.  When we do so, we have others around us to love, support and remind us of God’s love and faithfulness.

Photo credit: Krissy Basham

When we choose to be honest and open about our stories, it not only helps us, but it truly helps others as well. 

Think of it this way; When you are experiencing a difficulty in your life, isn’t it easier to talk it out with someone who has been down a similar road?  It is our shared experiences that bind us.  Often our situation is not exactly the same as our sister’s.  But just knowing that she also wrestled in her heart and faith to get through something can help us feel less like the failure that the enemy wants to convince us that we are.  Hearing her talk about it opens up a place in our souls for healing to begin. 

2 Corinthians 1:4 “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”  The idea here is that we share our struggles to encourage each other.  This way no one needs to feel alone.  Too many women feel alone in this life.  But as we share life, we realize that not only are we united in our struggles, but in our strength as well!

The women I spoke about today are beautiful women of God!  Each one has changed and continues to grow in her faith and trust in God.  The beautiful thing about our stories, is that The Author still has the pen in His hand.  If your life and story is not what you want it to be, take heart!  It is not over yet!  As long as there is breath in our lungs, there is time to grow.  And there is time for God to work.

If you are currently in a struggle, don’t keep it to yourself, share life with your faith community.  If you are without a faith community to plug into, I strongly encourage you to seek one out! Share gently, and within the walls of trust inside your connections, but share.  You are not alone.   Don’t allow yourself to continue to be isolated in your trial.  Help and healing begins when we bring the truth into the light. 

If you are “on the other side” of a struggle, someone needs to hear from you.  Someone is hurting and isolated.  Someone needs to hear how God brought you through.  God WILL use our trials for good.  Nothing is wasted with Him.  He can use the fragments of broken pieces in our lives, but we must share them for that to happen.  He didn’t bring you through the pain just for yourself, He wants to use it in the lives of those He connects you to. 

God, I know you want to use my story for your glory.  Lead me to share where you want to shine.  I trust that you will draw my heart to another who needs to see your face reflected in mine.  I want my life to bring you honor as I share all that you’ve done for me.  Please give me courage to be transparent.



Photo credit: Krissy Basham (again!)