By Lori Stanley Roeleveld, Crosswalk.com
Living in a broken world means there are countless occasions and situations that may break our hearts. We often associate broken hearts with disappointing romance, but our hearts may also break because of grief, rejection, disappointment, and even sorrow for the condition of our country or the world. Rebellious or lost children break our hearts. Fallen leaders break our hearts. And the suffering of others can lead to unbearable heartbreak. Fortunately, God provides us with Bible verses for a broken heart and even promises that He is “. . . near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit”Psalm 34:18b ESV.
Modern believers have little patience for heartbreak. When we are suffering a struggle of heart, we often feel pressure from others to “get over it,” “just give it to God and move on,” or even “it feels as though you’re nurturing this hurt, don’t you want to heal?” This is when it helps to know our God is longsuffering and not in the same rush as the world.
Some griefs cut deeper than others. A series of letdowns or disappointments can wear out our resilience. Even people of deep, mature faith can experience a heartbreak that takes longer to heal than anyone desires. No one pressures us to rush to stand on a broken leg. They would appreciate that healing takes time and there is no way to rush it. The same can apply to our broken hearts.
What Does the Bible Say about a Broken Heart?
The writer of Proverbs emphasizes the importance of our hearts when he writes “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” Proverbs 4:23 NIV. The Hebrew word for heart here is leb which refers to the inner self, comprised of our mind, will, understanding, and inclination as well as our emotions. God tells us in this simple proverb that everything we do flows from our hearts. This would make our hearts likely targets for our enemy, Satan, and so God cautions us to guard them. There are times, though, when we do take the hit!
In the armor of God, described in Ephesians 6:10-17, the piece that would cover our hearts is the breastplate of righteousness.
Of course, we know our own righteousness would never be sufficient protection. “But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;” Isaiah 64:6 NKJV. It’s the righteousness that is ours in Christ Jesus that provides protection for our inner being. “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord”1 Corinthians 1:30-31 ESV.
In other words, when we face the brokenness of our world, the people around us, even our own lives, we must remember to “put on” the righteousness of Jesus and rely on His atonement to guard our hearts. In fact, when Jesus preached in his hometown, He read this remarkable scripture from Isaiah regarding Himself:
“And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord’” Luke 4:17-19 NKJV.
Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted. In Him, there is no condemnation. He knows we live in a fallen world. He knows we are engaged in a spiritual battle. We become injured. We break our hearts. He is here for us with His presence and with healing.
The word used for brokenhearted in the Luke passage is syntribo. It means crushed or broken to shivers. Imagine how long a crushed bone might take to heal. A crushed heart or a heart “broken to shivers” requires time and the ministry of Jesus to return to wholeness and life.
Our hearts are so important to God there are numerous scriptures devoted to them. God desires a real relationship with us, not obedience alone. Of course, sometimes our hearts (or our feelings) are not completely in our obedience, yet we should still obey. Even still, God cares that our hearts become engaged in the process and He has compassion on us when our hearts are broken.
Who Were People in Scripture Who Experienced Broken Hearts?
Jeremiah’s heart was broken for the sins of his people. He cried out in Jeremiah 8:18 “I would comfort myself in sorrow; My heart is faint in me.” The prophet was preaching God’s message to the Israelites with all his heart, trying to turn them back to God before His coming judgment. Sadly, they would not listen. They refused to repent. And so, his heart grew faint and he felt a great burden of sorrow.
In Samuel 1, Hannah experienced great grief of heart when she was not able to become pregnant. She longed for a child and her husband’s other wife, Penninah, who was able to bear children, taunted her without mercy. Hannah’s husband Elkanah loved her, but she still longed for a baby. Hannah poured out her heart to the Lord in prayer and he answered her with a son, Samuel, who would become a great prophet. God had compassion on her broken heart.
Esau’s heart was broken when Jacob stole their father’s blessing from him. Jacob ran from Esau to escape his anger and there were many years of division between the brothers because of this heartbreak. And yet, God eventually provided healing and reconciliation between them.
God is near to us and ready to minister to our hearts whether they break over sin, over our disappointments and unfulfilled desires, or over damaged relationships. He did grant Hannah the child she longed for, but He did not fix everything for Jeremiah. Jacob and Esau were reconciled but not until there we many years of separation and pain. Still, God heard and was near them all.
King David, a man after God’s own heart, had countless heartbreaks stemming from his own need for repentance, to grief, to rebellious sons, and to national losses. The Psalms are full of David’s tears and of the comforts he found by drawing near to God. We can take at least five words of instruction from these Psalms in addressing our own broken hearts.
Comforting Bible Verses for a Broken Heart
From the Psalms, here are five words of comforting and useful instruction for healing broken hearts:
Take refuge in God alone: Psalm 73: 26-28 ESV “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.”
Praise the Lord. Remember His greatness and humble yourself before Him: Psalm 147:1-6 (ESV)“Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting. The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. The Lord lifts up the humble; he casts the wicked to the ground.”
Pour out your heart to God: “O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me. My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague, and my nearest kin stand far off” Psalm 38:9-11 ESV.
Trust that He hears you: “Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear, To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, That the man of the earth may oppress no more” Psalm 10:17-18 ESV.
Wait for the Lord in hope: “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” Psalm 27:14 ESV.
Below are more Bible verses for a broken heart.
Psalm 34:18: "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit."
Revelation 21:4: "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
John 16:33: "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Proverbs 17:17: "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."
Jude 1:3: "Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints."
Isaiah 61:1: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound."
Isaiah 54:17: "No weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.”
Matthew 11:28: "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
Isaiah 30:26: "Moreover, the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day when the Lord binds up the brokenness of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow."
Hosea 6:3: "Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”
Prayer for the Healing of a Broken Heart
God knows the pain and the risk of living in a fallen world. He sent His only Son Jesus to be human and to know our heartbreak for Himself. We can pray with confidence that He hears us, has compassion on us, and will work all things together for good for those who love Him, even our brokenness and sorrow.
Thank you for sending Jesus who is full of compassion and mercy. Thank You that He understands the pain of my broken heart. I have been trying so hard to heal but I’m still struggling and wondering if I’ll ever be whole again. Thank You for Your patience and kindness. Hear my prayer for healing. Bind up my broken heart and give me the strength to move forward in hope, even as I am waiting for complete healing. Send me brothers and sisters who understand to support me in the times when I feel like giving up. I know You are faithful and that You see me. I know You work all things together for good for those who love You. I do love You, Lord. I place all my hope in You. Make me whole again, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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Lori Stanley Roeleveld is a blogger, speaker, coach, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four encouraging, unsettling books including Running from a Crazy Man and The Art of Hard Conversations. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.