matters of the heart: heal don’t harden.
Death, rejection, betrayal, sin, lies, and selfishness are just a few ways we as humans can end up with a broken heart. Whether the pain was inflicted upon you or you were the one responsible for it, a broken heart needs to be tended to. And our first natural, humanly response? Get rid of this pain. This is when we have a choice to make!
We can harden or we can heal.
- Healing is the difficult, longer route. Hardening is a quick fix.
- Healing results in a stronger & wiser heart (even more than before it was broken). Hardening is like a bad drug it; it results in many lethal symptoms.
- Healing is a time of growing closer to the Lord. Hardening leads to a season of rebellion and drifting away from Him.
- When healing, you feel everything. With hardening you become numb.
- Healing results in a closer relationship with the Lord and you will begin to look more like Him. Hardening will turn you into someone you never wanted to be.
What happens when we do not allow the Healer to take care of our broken hearts? What happens when we try to take matters into our own hands in order to rid ourselves of a pain that feels like too much to bear? I can tell you! Our hearts harden. Hardening of the heart will undoubtedly lead to sin and you will eventually find yourself in the same broken state sometime in the future, because you did not allow God to heal it. It’s good to remind ourselves that time doesn’t heal all things, God does. God just asks that we trust Him enough to give Him the time to do the healing. But, sometimes our pain seems too unbearable and we are tempted to try and take matters into our own hands to free ourselves. And we do this by hardening our own hearts.
HARDENED & LACKING HOPE
So, one of my friend’s recently sent me an article to read on the topic of “grief,” because she saw some red flags and wanted to know what I thought about it. It was written by a Christian author and I could tell very quickly that their heart had been damaged and they had not healed from the pain. They went on (more explicitly) to claim that the damage from some things in life can never be fixed and it’s basically BS to say that anything could be turned around for good. In the context of the article, it seemed that their definition of the word fixed meant accepting or justifying the wrong that occurred. But we need to remind ourselves that healing, forgiveness and redemption are not signs of accepting the bad, but they allow God to use what was meant for bad and turn it around for His glory and your good.
I explained to her that reading it from the perspective of understanding (that they were still very hurt) and sympathy, rather than judgement was the wise route to take. We never want to belittle someone’s grief, or expect them to be farther along the healing process than where they are. We must remain sensitive to the hurting heart the same way we would want others to be for us. It is very insensitive to tell a grieving person “what happened to you is all for a reason…” We must remember that things happen that are not of the Lord in the slightest bit. Rape, murder, betrayal… God never wanted those things. Those are not the result of God’s doing, but from the rebellious decisions of people who choose to do exactly what He asks us not to do. BUT, even while showing others grace in their hurt, we need the wisdom to identify truth from falsehood.
There are so many hardships that we have to endure in this life, and if we do not continually and faithfully surrender our trials and pain to the Lord, it will break and harden us. It had hardened this author, and I can say that in the past it has hardened my heart as well. At times I was tempted to believe that devastation couldn’t lead to growth. And in that statement what I was essentially saying is that “there’s no hope.” Where feelings of hopelessness fester, it can quickly lead to a state of belief that “the enemy has won this one, and there is nothing our God can do about it.”
But my grandma always warned me: The devil is a liar. And he will tell you that there is absolutely no hope in your situation. He will tell you not to even think about having your brokenness come out for some sort of good. Lies! Lies that keep people in chains for years, desensitized to the truth and far from the freedom found in trusting Jesus to do what He does! And that is to move mountains within our hearts in order to move us closer to Him, comfort us, heal us and use us. He has proclaimed us as redeemed and He will keep us safe in His relentless love, no matter what trials may come.
When you harden your heart some things happen:
- You grow bitter. Your anger grows into something ugly. And when bitterness is not uprooted by prayer and forgiveness, the roots grow deeper and deeper until you start bearing hatred and apathy.
- You lack empathy. The cry of hurting people has no affect on a hardened heart. Therefore, you lack the ability to fully love others.
- You lack conviction. This is where sin starts to consume you, because you are numb and you no longer feel the Spirit’s conviction telling you “this is not who I called you to be.”
- You blame God. When heartache enters our life the temptation is to shift all blame on the One who let it happen. We forget that sin is not of the Lord, and the consequences of others sins was never His plan for us.
- You question God. “Does God hate me? Why would He let this hardship happen to me? He doesn’t even care!”
- You play the victim. It’s easier to convince ourselves that we have a right to stay angry/hardened when we have been wronged. This does not allow for healing and growth.
- You forget hope. Oh how fickle we are and how easily we forget that Christ died to offer us freedom from the bondage of sin and the opportunity to hold on to hope for the future. He is not the author of sin, but He is a good enough God to take what the enemy meant to destroy you and your brokenness, to heal your heart stronger and offer a future hope. Let nothing you go through be in vain; He is our hope to use the bad in our lives for a better future.
HEALING, FREEDOM & HOPE
Choosing to heal while rejecting our opportunity to harden our hearts (as a defense mechanism) will lead us on a journey of:
- growing closer to the Lord
- learning to trust Him more
- choosing to forgive ourselves and others (even if they are not sorry)
- recognizing the lies that the enemy tries to convince you of
- finding freedom from the power that sin has had in your life
Declare victory in Christ, even if you can’t see it or feel it yet. Because He has already proclaimed it to be true! His word is His word. Bottom line, it’s the truth. So when He says that He will work all things to together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28), then that’s it! God has turned the most devastating and heart wrenching circumstances into opportunity for His glory and our good, because He is good enough and big enough to do that.
In the bible there are countless unforgivable, unbearably painful, and horrendous things that people had done or had done to them, and we read how God transformed them from the inside out and used that for His glory. Paul, Mary, Moses, Peter, Joshua, David, Solomon, the tax collector, Thomas, the woman at the well, the paralyzed man… The list goes on forever. What seemed impossible to man, was possible with God.
What is it in your life that you are facing or have been dealing with for while that seems impossible to overcome? Whether it is forgiving yourself from your past mistakes, finding forgiveness from the sins of others or healing from the loss of a loved one… know that is a God-sized need, and He is more than capable of handling whatever you got going on inside.
God wants you to walk hand in hand with Him in this life. Through the ups and the downs. Trusting Him through the good and the bad. Rejecting the lies of the enemy as He continually reminds you of the truth:
You are loved, you are not abandoned in your pain,
God did not leave you behind, He did not forget about you,
He is near to the brokenhearted,
He loves you so much that He laid down His own life down for you even in the midst of your sin,
and because of that you have hope to not only make it through your weakest moments, but to be victorious through them.
Maybe you or someone you know has a lot of open wounds that still need healing because bitterness keeps reopening them. When we haven’t dealt with our hurt, it can easily distort our view of the truth when it comes to grief, freedom and redemption. But, we have the freedom from letting those things define us, to keep us in chains, and to keep us bitter. We have Jesus. And He is bigger than any circumstance. Seek Him (honestly speak to Him about what is going on inside) and seek His truth as you have chosen a journey of healing rather than to harden.
Read below and choose a challenge based on where you feel you are.
*you can use my helpful guide to study your bible as a guide if you need it!
- If you feel like everything bad seems to relentlessly happen to you, and you struggle with feeling forgotten or even hated by the Lord:
read, study and journal about the life of Job (read the book of Job in the old testament). Trust me, it’s a good one and you won’t ever be able to forget what he went through or how He, in the end, remained faithful to the Lord.
- If you feel like you are struggling in a spiritual battle and the pain from your own sin that is keeping you from the Lord:
read, study and journal about when Satan desired to “sift [Peter] like wheat” in the midst of his shame as Peter would soon betray Jesus. But, Jesus interceded and fought on His behalf in order to spare Peter (read Luke 22:31-34, and read the commentary from David Guzik on these verses).
- If you feel like you have hardened your heart to the point of unforgiveness and bitterness which has led to sin:
read, study and journal about what God asks us to do when we are tempted to remain hardened and bitter in Ephesians 4:17-31. Such a great passage of scripture!
I am praying for healing, forgiveness and freedom for all of us! And I pray that you were encouraged through this post. Just a reminder you are not alone.
Thank you for reading. ♥