Surviving Heartbreak: Encountering the God Who Heals
I would like to talk seriously with you about heartbreak.
As a cardiac nurse I see physically broken hearts every day, and I participate in the healing of those patients who have undergone heart surgery and many other life-saving procedures.
As a Christian writer, I want to talk with you about another type of heartbreak – the kind no one sees yet is even more devastating, precisely because it is the kind no man can heal – emotional heartbreak.
The Human Heart
The heart is a vital organ both physically and emotionally/spiritually. The bible talks about the heart frequently. In the book of Proverbs alone it is mentioned more than ninety times. Proverbs 4:23 says,
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
And in Proverbs 13:12 (KJV) it says,
Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh it is a tree of life.
And it goes on:
A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones (Proverbs 14:30, KJV).
A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken (Proverbs 15:13, KJV).
The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart: and a good report maketh the bones fat (Proverbs 15:30, KJV).
A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones (Proverbs 17:22, KJV).
The heart is one of the first things formed in the womb, and it’s the last organ that quits when we die. The Hebrew word for heart is “labe” accurately translated as the “seat of the soul”, and it’s strategically placed in the center of our chest where the breath of life (our spirit) resides.
The Consequences of Emotional Trauma, Shock, & Subsequent Heartbreak
God created your heart, and when it’s broken there is inevitable devastating pain. If that pain is not dealt with, serious consequences can occur emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Heartbreak is very real, and it’s very serious. Emotional heartbreak is responsible for countless suicides every year. It paralyzes and debilitates its victims. It is responsible for sleep deprivation, malnutrition, depression, and other physical disorders and maladies. It weakens the immune system and causes other emotional disorders and immense strain upon relationships. Prolonged heartbreak perpetuates dysfunction in a person’s life to the degree they often despair of it, hence the suicides that accompany it.
Emotional heartbreak can be the cause of a particular physical ailment which is known among Cardiologists as Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy, which is otherwise known as Broken Heart Syndrome. Broken Heart Syndrome afflicts people of all ages who have experienced emotional pain and trauma of diverse kinds. Regardless of the cause, the physical response to emotional pain is the same. It causes immense stress upon the heart causing vascular restriction to cardiac arteries, which can cause chest pain, shortness of breath, and even lead to cardiac arrest and death in extreme cases.
Case and point: People can and do die from a broken heart.
The heart and lungs (breath of life) cooperate closely in a ‘marriage relationship’ in which any manner of divorce equals death. They are intricately woven together. Neither can function independently. If the lungs fail, so will the heart, and vice-versa. Moments of initial and prolonged emotional trauma can cause rapid heart rates and palpitations which are accompanied by a sense of “suffocation” in which people feel like they cannot breathe despite adequate oxygenation. This triggers anxiety, which can be severe, causing further palpitations and hyperventilation. This is very real and can be serious when untreated. Prolonged grief from emotional trauma and shock (whatever the cause) can have detrimental physical consequences causing chest pain and other associated symptoms. People who suffer emotional trauma often need physical treatment as well as emotional and spiritual support.
If you are brokenhearted and have begun experiencing chest pain, do not ignore this symptom.
See your doctor as soon as possible.
Jesus Christ knows hearts. He created them. And He wants to heal yours. I don’t think anything quite stirs His deep compassion like those who are brokenhearted. Regardless of the cause, whether it is broken dreams, a failed relationship, or a lost loved one, God wants to heal your broken heart and lift you out of the pit of despair, hopelessness, and depression. He wants to breathe upon your life with joy, peace, and compassion.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord (Luke 4:18-19, KJV).
The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit (Psalm 34:17-18, KJV).
Please know that I’m not speaking to you as one who has never suffered. I know precisely what it is like to have a broken heart on numerous accounts. At the age of eighteen (before I knew the Lord) I had my heart broken by a failed love relationship wherein I was betrayed, and became pregnant out-of-wedlock. At the age of twenty-four I suffered devastating heart-break from a broken dream and lost love that plagued me with grief for years. And I know what it is to lose a loved one in sudden death. The grief that accompanies these kinds of heartbreak is relentless and exasperating, perpetuating itself with every memory, scent, familiar face, location, and token of that relationship. It can completely suck the life out of you.
• I know what it’s like to cry so hard I screamed – for hours.
• I know what it’s like to eat carpet bawling in a rage at God.
• I know what it’s like to lose my appetite OR gorge myself on food in an effort to self-soothe.
• I know what it’s like to lay awake at night, unable to sleep. And I know what it’s like to sleep the day and night away never wanting to get out of bed.
• I know what it’s like to lose all interest in anyone and anything that would attempt to afford me any happiness.
• I know what it’s like to feel despair and be spiritually oppressed.
• I know what it’s like to be haunted with memories.
• I know what it’s like to suffer in silence for fear that no one would understand me.
• I know what it’s like to feel as if my life were slipping away from me – and wishing at times that it would.
• I know what it’s like to be emotionally fragile and unstable, unable to control my runaway emotions.
• I know what it’s like to feel hopeless and utterly despairing.
These are not isolated symptoms for the brokenhearted individual. They are universal. So if you can relate, you’re in good company. I have a very real compassion for those with broken hearts, and I’d like to introduce you to the One who can heal yours.
Spiritual ICU – Meet the Creator of Your Heart, the Great Physician
Hearts are vital, and when they are injured they need emergent and intensive care. When cardiac cells die the damage done is permanent because they cannot regenerate themselves. Just as our physical hearts cannot heal themselves, neither can our emotional/spiritual hearts. They require the divine intervention of the One who created them. Jesus Christ both created and crafted your heart. It is uniquely yours. And He is the only One who is able to heal it. If you haven’t discovered already, placing proverbial ‘Band-Aids’ upon a broken heart does nothing to heal it. Here’s why: You must go back to the Manufacturer for all necessary repairs. There is one commonality among all human hearts: They were created as a dwelling place for God’s Holy Spirit. And when God is not at home in your heart, the heart is vulnerable to every kind of detriment, darkness and deception. That absence automatically puts us at risk. The first thing I want to encourage you to do (if you have not done so already) is to invite Jesus Christ into your heart as Lord and Savior. Give Him your heart and life and all the pain that goes with it. You can pray this prayer right now:
I thank You for drawing me to Yourself. I come to You just as I am. But I don’t want to stay that way. I’m asking You to change me. I know I’m a sinner and I’m so aware of my sins. I feel dirty, and I don’t know how to get clean. But I trust You are able to wash me and make me pure and whole. I want to give You my life today. Take me and make me Your own. I trust You with my life, and I ask that You forgive me and grant me repentance in all those areas that don’t please You. I want to live a life that makes You happy. I want to live the abundant life You promise. I thank You Jesus right now for giving me Your life, and for taking the punishment for my sins upon the cross. I receive Your cleansing, Your salvation, and Your righteousness at this very moment. I’m Yours now, Lord. I want to follow You. I don’t want to go my own way anymore. I thank You that You are my Teacher, and my Lord, and You will be the Way, the Truth, and the Life for me. I give You all the praise, honor and glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
For more on salvation in Christ please CLICK HERE.
Trying to put a Band-Aid upon a broken heart with self-soothing methods or coping mechanisms is like trying to perform heart surgery with a plastic knife. It won’t work. Those methods are impotent. They have no power to bring actual healing. They merely disguise pain for a brief moment in time. All the while your heart and the issues at hand are being ignored, and the problems rot and fester like an untreated cancerous wound.
When the Lord healed me He ushered me into what I call ‘Spiritual ICU’. I went through an intense season of healing that was very powerful, yet very intimate with the Lord. He both incubated and immersed me in His presence daily. All I had to do was come to Him. He performed the miraculous and deep restorative work in my heart that no man could perform.
He restoreth my soul… (Psalm 23:3).
He touched me by His Spirit, and every day I grew stronger. He fed me with His word and strategically placed me in a body of believers that were able to minister to me by His anointing and gift of healing. After 18 months the pain was completely gone. I was filled with His Spirit and walking in total victory – a victory I never dreamed was even possible.
Right now that may sound like a far cry from reality for you. But that is exactly what Jesus Christ wants to do for you. All you have to do is say, “Yes.”
The Gift of Sacred Tears
You may think you’ve cried enough. But the cleansing tears of healing are much different than the aching tears of grief and pain. Tears are a gift from God. Jesus said,
The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, they whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore, the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! (Matthew 6:22-23, KJV).
If the heart is the seat of the soul, the eyes are certainly the windows into it. The soul of an individual can be clearly discerned in the eyes. When we look at people, we look into their eyes. Eyes are directly responsive to the condition of the body and soul, reflecting joy, sadness, grief, pain, energy and fatigue. I find it interesting that this is where our tears are formed. Any optometrist will tell you that the tears formed emotionally versus those formed by a physical stimulus are composed of very different physiological ingredients. And old adage says “Tears are the blood of the soul”, and I believe there is a lot of wisdom and truth in that saying. For anyone who has suffered a broken heart, I believe they would concur.
Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? (Psalm 56:8, KJV).
Your tears are sacred to God, and He handles them with extraordinary care. Just as He has counted every hair on your head, every tear you cry is bottled in heaven. Healing comes with a good hard cry. Offer that pain to God. It’s very cleansing. Tears are spiritual seed. Those tears which are yielded and offered to Him, which are sown in pain, the scripture says will reap joy in the morning and a harvest in the end. The morning represents a new day – the dawning of a new beginning. When your night season is passed in tears, the dawn will eventually come, even as the sun surely rises. And when it does, He promises us a harvest of joy. But the key is to sow those tears to God, allowing Him to heal your heart with His presence and His word. For me this season lasted eighteen months. Every passing day was a bit brighter, until finally I was free and whole. When that day finally arrived, the miraculous reality of what He’d done ‘dawned’ upon me. He had accomplished a deep and utterly miraculous work in me, and I was left speechless in awe.
They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him (Psalm 126:5-6, KJV).
Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness. For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning (Psalm 30: 4-5, KJV).
The Dangers of Surrendering to Pain
There was a time in my life when I forgot what it was like to feel ‘normal’. For some of you, the thought of actually experiencing joy and peace again seem impossible. You can’t even remember what that is like.
There are those who suffer with broken hearts who have sadly never been healed, because the possibility of healing was not something they could grasp or even knew existed. Instead, they live their lives having surrendered to the pain through coping mechanisms that allow them to function. As a result of this surrender, they become numb to the degree they almost don’t recognize the initial wound. It has become common. They have acclimated to their pain. It’s what we call an ‘abnormal normal’ in the medical field. This is commonly seen in chronically ill people. Their abnormal condition becomes their new baseline. And although it is no longer detected at the surface, for the brokenhearted individual this ‘abnormal normal’ manifests in other ways such as negative habits, conversation, relationship patterns, and a dulled or flat emotional affect. Pain that is hidden is still pain. And until God deals with that pain at the root, it will produce its fruit. Hidden pain is rarely disguised for very long because it yields so many destructive manifestations. Despite the individual’s defenses, coping mechanisms, and ‘thick skin’, if something touches the exposed nerve in their wound, they bleed all over again, and this vulnerable area ends up repeatedly wounded in a vicious cycle that perpetuates pain.
When people surrender to emotional pain part of their heart dies.
That individual loses emotional and spiritual cardiac function
which can only be restored by Jesus Christ.
Choosing Hope & Healing
The hope of healing God offers is not the same as an empty wish. The meaning of hope in the bible is actually connected directly to promise. The Greek word for hope is ‘elpizo’ which means to expect or confide as if to already have obtained that thing hoped for. It speaks of assurance with expectation. We can have faith when our hope is intact. When our hope is gone, our faith fails us and we enter into despair. As long as we have Christ, our hope cannot fail, because he is Faithful. Therefore, placing our hope in anyone or anything other than Him is destined to fail us in its imperfections.
But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it, (Romans 8:25, KJV).
When you say “Yes” to Jesus, you can take Him at His word for who He is and everything He is able to do. All power in heaven and earth are at His command. When Jesus Christ is invited into broken hearts – He heals them. Period. How He goes about that is a unique journey for each individual. He will tailor that experience just for you because He loves you, knows you, and understands what you need.
In closing, I leave you with these promises:
And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst (John 6:35, KJV).
Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water (John 7:37-38, KJV).
Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? And your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat yet that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness (Isaiah 55:1-2, KJV).
And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely (Revelation 22:17, KJV).
Say yes and surrender to Him. God bless you in your healing journey.
Cheers & Shalom,