There are few things worse than a broken heart. Whereas an enlarged heart is a physical problem, a broken heart is a serious emotional one. In my mind, it’s the most saddening of heart problems. There are few things more pitiful than seeing someone who has absolutely no sense of security or worth. He no longer has any will or desires, just emptiness.
The Psalmist says, “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit” (Ps 34:18). And again, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Ps 51:17; see also Ps 147:3; Luke 4:18).
If an enlarged heart affects my relationship with others, then a broken heart is something that will affect my relationship to self.
The word “contrite” appears in only four passages in our English Bible and each time it speaks of man’s relationship with God. The other two mentions are in Isaiah. “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isa 57:15).
“… to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word” (Isa 66:2).Here we have a few glimpses at the character of a man with a broken and a contrite heart. He is a man who dwells in the presence of God and lives his life in nearness to Him. He is a man who trembles at the Word of God. He is a man who pleases God with his life.
One thing is obvious in all these verses, though. It’s the fact that there is no mention of anything to do with the man’s self. Self doesn’t matter to the man with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, because God is his all.
So what are the symptoms of a broken heart? If I have a broken heart, my life will be characterized by God’s having total control in everything. There will be an utter blindness and deafness to human opinion, and an ear tuned to His voice alone.
The broken heart and contrite spirit have no time for self and its ways. There will be no sense of self-will, no selfish pride, or ambition. I will be empty of these things and ready for His use. And He will use me, for He came to “heal the broken hearted” (Psalm 147:3; Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18) and He can make us into vessels “fit for the Master’s use.”
May I suggest that: If I’m upset when someone else gets the credit for something I’ve done, I don’t know what it is to have a broken heart. If I’m jealous when another seems to be getting more recognition than I am, I don’t know the feeling of a broken heart. If I allow myself to be hindered from serving God because of what others will think, I am not a “man of the broken heart.”
Our Lord was a Man with a broken heart. In the words of the Psalmist He could say, “Reproach hath broken My heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none” (Ps 69:20).
Jeremiah was a man with a broken heart because of the spiritual state of his land (Jeremiah 13:7; 23:9). David said, “Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not Thylaw.” Oh that we would have broken hearts because of our own spiritual state and the state of our land!
Where are the fathers who will cry out to God with tears for their children (Mark 9:24)? Where are the women who will weep out of gratitude to their Lord (Luke 7:38)? Where are the men that will sorrow because of the enemies of the cross of Christ (Phil 3:18)? Where are they that will warn others of danger with tears (Acts 20:31; 2 Cor 2:4) and shed tears for the unbelief of their people (Rom 9:3)? Where are they who will weep bitterly because of the coldness of their own hearts (Matt 26:75; Mark 14:72)?
Our Lord Himself wept. He wept because of the pain of a family (John 11:35). He wept because of the unbelief of a nation (Luke 19:41). He wept because of the sin of a world (Heb 5:7; Matt 26:37, 38).
A day is coming when there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth,” but it will be the lost souls themselves that weep. We will be beyond sorrow then (Rev 21:4). The only time to weep is now. For “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” (Ps 126:5, 6).
There is no higher calling than to serve the Lord “with humility and tears” (Acts 20:19). There is no greater need than for men with broken hearts, for hearts with no thought of self, but only love for God and man. God grant that we might be men with big hearts and men with broken hearts! God grant that we might be more like Christ!