Of all the factors that can consistently affect our life negatively there is probably nothing more devastating than what the Bible calls a “broken” heart. Because the heart is the seat of who we are it affects every aspect of our life. It is the source of all abiding emotions, good or bad. From the heart emerge all of life’s boundaries. In other words, every sense of limitation we experience flows out of our heart. We can spend our entire life focusing on problems and limitations that we perceive to be outside influences when, in reality, these limitations are based on what I believe about myself in my heart!
The heart is the true source of understanding. The heart is part soul and part spirit; therefore, it is the place where the intellect of a man is merged with the voice of the Spirit giving birth to an understanding of every situation that combines natural facts and the wisdom of God! Wisdom is “the practical application of truth” and comes from the mouth of God. God’s wisdom shows us how to apply His truth in a practical manner. Because He is omniscient He knows all the variables in every situation. He knows the economy and the people we are dealing with, as well as our own strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, armed with the correct intellectual facts combined with God’s precision timing and direction, a believer can navigate life with complete confidence.
The heart determines the quality of our physical health. Any belief of unworthiness or condemnation (expectation of punishment) is the triggering mechanism for self-destruction. Once any aspect of our life gets better than we think we deserve we feel stress, the physical manifestation of fear. With this alert the heart begins to subconsciously drive us to sabotage our success or happiness. If it can’t be accomplished any other way, this sabotage will occur as a result of self-induced illness.
The heart does the same thing in the positive that it does in the negative. When we believe we are righteous in Jesus the heart expands our boundaries making it impossible to settle for a compromised life. It can take us to success that is beyond intellectual comprehension.
Most importantly, the heart is the place where God speaks. In this New Covenant He abides in the believer by the Holy Spirit. He speaks personally and individually to each of us and no longer speaks to us through outside sources; therefore, if we don’t hear God for ourselves we will not hear His voice. He may give us the occasional warning or encouragement through someone yielding to His Spirit, but that is not how our life is to be led. The person who is closed to God or whose heart is hardened is incapable of clearly perceiving God’s leadership; therefore, they are left to their own devices.
All these aspects of our life are either made clearer and more understandable or distorted and skewed by the condition of our heart. When one experiences what the Bible calls a “broken” heart they are unable to navigate life as they should. Their capacity for understanding, perceiving, or experiencing life is negatively affected! The symptoms of a broken heart are endless, but the following list are places that it becomes most obvious:
- Continuous negative emotions
- Codependent tendencies
- Difficulty understanding spiritual reality
- Distorted view of life
- Feeling like a victim
- Repeated cycles of destructive behavior
- Unexplained failures
- Abusive relationships
- The inability to feel happy, fulfilled, and loved
While many more could be listed, these are the ones I see most often in counseling and personal ministry. But the area where a broken heart tends to affect us more than any other is in relationships. The heart is the seat of love. A healthy heart can give and receive love without diving into codependency and its hoard of destructive complications. In the heart resides the capacity to feel, receive, and give love. Since love is the deepest need of mankind, this very root factor alters our entire life experience.
Heartbreak is like a self-replicating computer virus. Once it gets into the inner-working of your computer there is no end to the chaos and confusion it causes. Heartbreak always starts in some aspect of relationship, and it is in relationships that it replicates, multiplies, and duplicates. Heartbreak creates the “self-destruct” cycle whereby we choose the wrong people to trust, sabotage the relationship, and then pass horrible judgments about ourselves and others.
The good news is Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted! In fact, the very first work of the Holy Spirit in your life is to make you whole. God wants to have a loving, trusting relationship with you. He wants His relationship with you to make you capable of meaningful relationships with others. The quality of our relationships can never exceed our personal wholeness, and our personal wholeness is the direct fruit of our accepting and experiencing God’s limitless love. Before becoming a servant or before diving into any of the deeper aspects of God, the starting place is wholeness. Apart from wholeness everything we do as believers will be tainted by insecurity and feelings of inadequacy.
In Luke 4:18-20 Jesus made this bold proclamation: 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. In the context of this Scripture Jesus is talking about the emotional effects of a person who has a broken heart. There are plenty of Scriptures that address the individual issues listed in this and other passages; however, the context here indicates that He is not talking about financial poverty, physical blindness, or demon possession. This is all about the spiritual/emotional effects of a broken or wounded heart.
In this passage the poor are those who feel destitute and have an abiding sense of lack. They are not in touch with God’s love. They feel inadequate and ill-equipped for life. They have no sense of God’s promises being sure for them. The awareness of their needs is far greater than the awareness of His provision. That abiding sense of lack is the result of a broken heart.
It is the sense of lack that is responsible for every temptation, every sin, and every destructive behavior. The original temptation occurred only after Satan undermined Eve’s confidence in God. Once she bought into the idea that she was not who God said she was, she began feeling lack as the fruit of her new belief. This feeling of lack and the new deficiency of trust for God’s faithfulness led her to search outside of Him to get her needs met!
The captivity mentioned here is a description of the circumstances of life that overtake us when we feel destitute. It is the deception that our circumstances have the power to hold us. We feel that we have no choices and our life seems limited.
Isaiah 42:7 shows us that captives sit in the prison houses because they have no light. They do not see things as they really are. Darkness occurs in the absence of light. When people do not know and believe the truth they are in captivity, not because the enemy is powerful, but because they do not see things as they really are. These prisoners do not perceive that the door to their prison has already been opened. They simply need to believe the truth and trust God, and as our Shepherd He will lead us out of the captivity!
The phrase recovering sight to the blind is such a wonderful concept! People become blinded by the darkness. Their circumstances dictate their sense of reality. They need to recover sight i.e., they need to see their circumstances from God’s perspective.
In Mark 6 we have the story of Jesus feeding the multitudes with five loaves and two fish. In this story we see the true meaning of recovering sight. Jesus, as a man tempted in all ways like we are tempted, must have been momentarily blinded by the circumstances. He looked at His resources and He looked at the incredible demand, and based on a natural view it looked hopeless. But He modeled what we should do when circumstances begin to overtake our life view. Mark 6:41 says, And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves… In the Greek the phrase here is the same phrase used in Luke 4 when it says, recovery of sight to the blind. In both Luke 4 and then again in Mark 6 it should actually read, “He recovered sight.”
Like the people described in Luke 4, Jesus was momentarily blinded by the circumstances. You might ask, “How can you make that claim?” Simple! If it were you or me, we would have at least been momentarily blinded by the size of the demand versus the size of our resources. So, if He was tempted exactly as we are I can confidently assert this is exactly what He felt! But remember, temptation is not sin. Jesus did not follow His temptation to limit Himself!
Instead of being blinded by the circumstance, He turned to God and recovered sight from God’s perspective. The moment He recovered sight He was able to bless (speak favorably) the limited resources and experience a miracle, thus creating the desired end. Any time we believe we are limited we are only looking at the circumstance from the perspective of our resources instead of God’s!
Then Luke 4 says He wants to set at liberty the oppressed or bruised. Every “hit” we take has the potential to leave a bruise, a place that creates pain if touched and restricts freedom of movement. In fact, a bruise restricts the life-giving flow of blood that brings about healing. In psychological terms this would be a “stuck state.” A “stuck state” occurs when we experience an irresolvable emotional trauma. Many of life’s major hurts occur at a time when we are emotionally or intellectually incapable of dealing with the pain. When this happens we tend to “stuff the pain inside” and never resolve it because it hurts to revisit those memories. However, no matter how deeply we bury that pain it still affects our life.
If a child is molested and that pain/bruise is never resolved it will cause difficulty in that area of their life forever. They may grow academically, socially, and in all other areas, but every time there is an opportunity for intimacy he or she will revert back to the influence of that trauma. Many times we find ourselves dealing with unbearable pain with the emotional resources of a ten-year-old (or whatever age we were when the trauma occurred.)
But last of all, Jesus said He wanted to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. All scholars agree this is referring to the Year of Jubilee, the year all debts were cancelled. In the Old Testament the Year of Jubilee was when all financial debts were cancelled. It didn’t matter how the debts were obtained, whether they were from mishandling money or circumstances beyond your control, they were cancelled. I call this emotional debt. Emotional debt, like financial debt, hangs over your head always causing stress and making you feel limited. But God has declared your Year of Jubilee because Jesus paid your emotional debt. When Isaiah describes Jesus’ experience on the cross he points out that He not only bore our physical pain and sickness but also our emotional pains!
The great thing about God’s healing is it is not a process, it is instantaneous. We may go through a process of learning to walk in our new found freedom or of convincing ourselves that He will heal us, but the moment our eyes are opened and we rightly perceive and believe the truth, we are instantly set free! You are never more than one belief away from ending any battle you are fighting or one breath away from the end of your pain!
Jesus wants to free you from your emotional debt. You may deserve the pain you feel and you may have been the cause, but that doesn’t matter. God wants you whole but you cannot experience wholeness with a lifetime of emotional debt.
In this month’s series, A Heart Awakening, I want to help you understand how your heart was broken and how you can move beyond the control of a broken heart and into a life without limits.