Psalm 34:18 says "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit."
Psalm 147:3 says "He (God) heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."
Psalm 10:1 says "Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?"
Psalm 13:1-2 says "How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?..."
When we read these different verses, it seems like we are getting very different and mixed messages. In a couple verses we are told that God is close to those who are brokenhearted and that he brings healing. However, the other verses make it sound like God is distant and has forgotten the person who is in sorrow.
Today, as I was sitting and thinking and writing in my journal (yes, I journal…great way for me to process), these verses came to my mind. So I took time to write them down. After I wrote them down, I began to think about them; how they can both be true, since on the surface they are opposite statements.
The truth is, there are times when it seems or feels as though God is distant. Like perhaps he has forgotten us, or isn’t near to us. Often, those moments are when we are in a place of sorrow, trouble, or our hearts are broken. The pain of that time can cloud our view or thinking, because it can be hard to see anything else besides the pain. And we don’t like pain…so we begin to wonder why God would allow that in our life.
Yet God has not moved away from us.
What we read in Psalm 34:18 and 147:3 is a truth we need to cling to, even when we can’t feel it or sense it. Those verses tell us that he is near to and brings healing to the brokenhearted. It doesn’t say he keeps the person from becoming brokenhearted. Which is what we would prefer. Rather, these verses tell us that when our hearts have been broken, God is still near us.
We may not feel it or sense it, but that doesn’t change the truth. God is near, and God does bring healing to the brokenhearted. It just takes time for a broken heart to heal, or to stop seeing everything else through the lens of that pain.
The other verses above, Psalm 10:1 and 13:1-2, are simply very honest verses. The author wrote those in the midst of their own pain and trouble. And when we are experiencing pain or trouble, we wonder where God is and what he’s doing.
If you continue to read in chapters 10 and 13, you see the author remembers that God does see, does hear, can be trusted, is still there, and is still in control.
But if you think about it, it’s actually kind of encouraging to know that those verses are in the Bible as well. They are real. They are honest. We can relate to them. And they are a reminder that God is so big, and so gracious, that he can handle when we are struggling with him and wondering where he is. It doesn’t cause him to abandon us. He listens to our pain and our heart-cries.
He is near to us…even when we feel like he is distant.
As I was writing in my journal regarding these verses, I concluded my thoughts with the following statement…
“Perhaps, when we are sad and brokenhearted, he is the only source of strength that gets us through the day…if he wasn’t near, we would be even more in despair. So while we may not feel him or think he’s there, he in fact is very near in that moment.”
We as Followers of Christ are not immune to pain, sorrow, trouble, and broken hearts. We wish we were, but we are not. However, we can remember in those times that God is there with us, near to us, giving us the strength we don’t even have ourselves to carry on. And healing is coming.
As we seek to Simply Follow Jesus in this life, may we hold onto the truth that God is near to us. May we remember his promise from Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you nor forsake you”. May we be honest, just like the psalmist was. And, just like the psalmist, may we also remember that God does see, does hear, can be trusted, is still there, and is still in control. Even when we are brokenhearted.