Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A heart can be broken, but it keeps beating just the same

Through the Bible in 90 days: Day 59

Read: Lamentations 2:1-Ezekiel 12:20

Verse that stood out:
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness - Lamentations 3:22-23.

That the book of Lamentations even makes it into the Bible seems to give credibility to the fact that in God’s loving-kindness, God gives us room to grieve. Just a surface reading of the book lets us know that for God’s children, it’s ok to cry. Mourning the fall of Jerusalem and the death of many loved ones, the poet writes on tear soaked pages, “My eyes overflow with tears” (1:16) . . . “Bitterly [I] weep at night; tears are upon [my] cheeks” (1:2) . . . “My groans are many and my heart is faint.” Grief and pain pour off his pen. The aching is tangible. At one point he wonders of both himself and his fallen city, “Your wound is as deep as the sea. Who can heal you?” (2:13).

But it’s not just tears we find in this book of lament. In Lamentation's five chapters, the poet goes through the broad range of emotions surrounding grief. He gets angry at others producing a scorching diatribe against their sins. He gets angry with God saying “the Lord is like an enemy.” He expresses doubt, wondering out loud if God has abandoned his people forever. The poet is sure that the “Lord has given full vent to his wrath” and his response is to give full vent to his grief.

Amazingly, God takes it.

God doesn’t take it because he is weak, or incompetent, or absent, but God gives us room to grieve because of his loving-kindness. Far from being afraid of grief and mourning, God invites us into the middle of our pain. He knows (because he made us) that our healing can never come from evading our hurts, but that we must face our pain in the presence of the One who can heal. Isolating our pain only makes things worse, but giving voice to our grief and our sorrow connects us to the one who shares our suffering. Emboldened by the loving-kindness of God, we voice the thing which we once dared not speak and discover, “we are not consumed.”

God’s love gives us room to grieve, because it is only in grieving that we discover God’s love is bigger than the pain. In the movie, Fried Green Tomatoes, Jessica Tandy’s character recounts the lesson she learned after having grieved the loss of an older brother, “A heart can be broken, but it keeps beating just the same.” So many people avoid bringing their burdens to God because ultimately they fear their burdens will over take them, that their hearts will stop beating. But it’s only in laying our burdens at the feet of Christ’s love that we keep from being consumed by our burdens. It’s only there, in God’s presence that we discover, our broken hearts can find the strength to continue loving in the midst of our pain.

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