Advent: Hope for a Grieving Heart
A heart wrenched with pain – a by-product of grief. I understand, all too well, that a heart can physically hurt. Squeezed in a vise and so heavy, the next beat takes superhuman effort. Those of you reading this who’ve experienced great loss know this pain. You may be hurting this very moment. It’s very real and in those moments, you wonder if it will ever end. If that is you, I am so sorry for your pain.
I once read there’s a much higher incidence of heart attacks among those suffering grief. It makes sense to me that the physical pain caused by the emotional pain can be so great, it literally takes a toll on the heart. I understand because I’ve felt grief. I’ve felt that pain.
Seems the older I get, the more I recognize it. I see it, now and then, in those around me. Life isn’t a stroll through a spring garden a’bloomin. At times it’s more like a battlefield fraught with mines – and people get wounded.
The Post-It Verse
Reflecting on scripture this Advent, one verse has taken up residence in my thoughts, as if God stuck a post-it note on the walls of my mind with the words scrawled across it, for me to read over and over again. The loss of a dear friend, along with the suffering of those I know and care about, has given me a deeper appreciation of this verse. A very personal understanding.
The prophet Isaiah foretold of Israel’s long-awaited Messiah King. Of this King, Isaiah tells us,
“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.”
Mak’ob is the original Hebrew word Isaiah used here for the word ‘sorrows,’ defined as both physical and mental pain. The word has been translated in scripture into the words sorrow, pain and grief.
Jesus, the Messiah King, chose to be born a baby, knowing he’d take on his own flesh, our grief. All of the pain of all time, all of that heartache would be thrust onto him. He knew he would take up the cross, carrying it along with all of our grief, pain and sins. All the pain of the world was inflicted upon him to carry into the grave and to leave it there. He would rise again triumphantly conquering death and its sting. And He did.
At times it seems the sting remains. But what would it be like had Jesus refused to be born an innocent baby into this world sick with sin, pain and grief? What if he’d denied the cross, shirking the pain and never conquering death? Would the sting we feel be even more unbearable? I believe the answer is yes. I cannot imagine the pain He must have endured on our behalf. I’ve a much greater appreciation for him willing to take my pain upon himself.
The Remedy for our Pain
Pain is unavoidable this side of heaven. But I’m coming to realize that because He bore this pain, He understands it. He doesn’t shrink away from the ugliness of it. He’s not afraid when we come, tears spent, falling empty before him. He was born and died for those very moments. To bring us what no one else can – hope.
Maybe all we can muster is to crawl up to his manger, hands outstretched, head sunk low and offer him our grief, presenting him our wounded, aching hearts. He takes it. All of it. And He restores. I don’t know how. I don’t understand. I just know He does. And to a heart wrenched with pain, it is the balm that heals.
If that’s you, holding onto a grieving heart, trust him with your pain. Bring your grief to him this Advent. He will knit your heart back together, piece by piece. It’s safe in the hands of this Messiah King. The good news is for you and for me. There is hope for today. It is real and it’s found in this baby named Jesus.
Broken Heart photo by Pepei at Deviantart
Sunrise photo from Photoxpress