“The LORD is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit.”

-Psalm 34:18

Hearts break for many reasons. In American English we most often use brokenhearted imagery to refer to sadness that results from a romantic failure. But the image itself comes the Old Testament where it applies generally to being beat up by circumstances. 

Hearts break because of tragic deaths, financial disasters, sicknesses, family conflicts, trouble with friends, or myriads of other reasons. The fact is that brokenhearted-ness is unavoidable living in a world stained by sin. No matter how hard we try to sugar coat it or avoid it, some days our hearts will break with grief and hurt.

Which is exactly why we need verses like Psalm 34:18. In this Psalm David reflects on a time of extreme need when he was on the run. Friends had turned on him, and he had little hope of success or even survival. Yet on the run, hiding from enemies amongst other enemies, David discovered a theological gem: the Lord is near to the brokenhearted. This is another way of saying that God cares for those with broken hearts in a special way. 

He is not far from the hurting, but he is near. Not only that, he saves those whose spirit is crushed. He is the rescuer—the redeemer. Our circumstances may not offer us hope. Certainly we cannot rescue ourselves. But in the midst of being brokenhearted, God says to us, “I will rescue you.”

It is no wonder, then, that in Isaiah 61:1 we read of the Messiah, 

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is on me, 
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted…”

Jesus’s ministry is the direct cause of hope for all whose hearts are broken because he solved the root cause of all broken hearts: sin. Whatever is crushing us today will not last. Sin and death have been defeated, and thus, even with tears in our eyes, we can move forward in faith. He heals the brokenhearted by offering eternal peace and rest. In the meantime when our hearts break, let us remember that the Lord is near the brokenhearted, and he saves those crushed in spirit.

“Jesus, then, undertakes the cause of the troubled. He was a mourner all his days, and therefore he is very tender towards mourners.”

-C.H. Spurgeon

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