Be Brokenhearted on Purpose

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 34:18

On my sabbatical last summer I spent a lot of time thinking about brokenheartedness and the kinds of promises God offers to those who are brokenhearted. You might consider this, as I did, a nice promise to have in your back pocket just in case your heart is ever broken. But these promises seem to indicate that God is especially near to us when we are in this state.

What I came to realize is that this state of blessedness is available daily. 

We don’t need to wait until circumstances impose brokenheartedness on us because there is no end in this world to the brokenness we might consider and grieve. If our hearts are not broken today due to dire personal circumstances, we should rejoice! 

But then we can find some other brokenness to grieve – our ongoing battle with the evil desires of our hearts, the sadness of a friend who has lost a spouse, the plight of young women and men who are trafficked for sex, the many who have perished in the pandemic, and so much more. 

We should not, of course, be morbidly obsessed with any of these, and we should be careful not to succumb to overwhelming despair, but every day we can surely find a reason to have a broken heart, and thereby draw God’s presence closer to us.

To be broken is to be blessed, but brokenness is not something we need to pursue. We need not pursue what we already possess; we are broken and we are surrounded by brokenness. By acknowledging this fact and humbly laying our cares before the Lord, we draw his mercy and blessings toward us. We can be brokenhearted on purpose.

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Michael Krahn is the Lead Pastor of the EMMC church in Aylmer, Ontario, where he has served for the last 13 years. He has been married to Anne Marie for 27 years and together they have three daughters (19,18,16). You can find more of Michael’s writing at www.michaelkrahn.com or connect on social media at @Michael_G_Krahn (Twitter), pastor.michael.krahn (IG), and Michael.George.Krahn (Fb)

Photo by Marianna Smiley on Unsplash

Counting Present Sorrow as Future Joy

“But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge.”

Psalm 71:14-15

I remember as a child in the church being led in song and the leader telling us not to sing if we couldn’t honestly affirm the words. On the surface that seems fairly harmless instruction, and in some cases this might be wise, but I have come to see many songs, and some of what is written in scripture, as what I would call “aspirational statements.” 

When we aren’t feeling what we wish we did, we can still aspire to feel rightly according to God’s word. We can proclaim what we know to be true even when our feelings lead us in the opposite direction. Psalm 71:14 strikes me as that kind of statement: “But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.” 

King David often felt hopeless, but he aspired to hope continually, and this increased his ability to hope. 

And we can do the same. We can proclaim the truth that this darkness will not last, even as we despair that it seems to have no end. We can rejoice in our trials and sufferings not by coming to somehow “enjoy” them, but by being obedient to this command, with the truths of scripture as the fuel of our obedience.

When I meet trials of various kinds I often find it difficult to rejoice in the clear light of truth and so easy to get lost in the labyrinth of despair. But in those times I remind myself of this: “Count it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

By faith, we can count present sorrow as future joy, and this can bring that future joy into the present for us to enjoy.

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COVID Has Made Us Weary, But We Should Still Be Doing Good

If you are in a season that feels barren and fruitless, take heart – over time, if we are persistent in our pursuit of God and obedient to his will and plan, we will bear fruit. Now might be a time when you are being pruned and watered and weathered so that your fruit will be both sweeter and more abundant when the appointed season comes. 

“As for you, brothers and sisters, do not grow weary in doing good.”

2 Thessalonians 3:13

Seldom in the world’s history has the entirety of humankind been subjected to such mind-numbing and soul-crushing stress and chaos that has led to such persistent weariness. During this time, on days when I’m feeling down, it’s easy to look for the fruits of my efforts and wonder if I’ve accomplished anything at all. On those weary days, progress seems painfully slow and tangible “results” seem like a barren field on a foggy morning. This is quite opposite of what we desire, isn’t it? 

We would all love for our efforts to result in immediate, visible, tangible fruit, but fruit is a fitting metaphor, and it is no accident that this metaphor is employed frequently in Scripture. As Psalm 1 points out, the blessed person is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season

How the Wicked and the Righteous Grow

In Psalm 92 we see a clear contrast between the wicked and the righteous. In v7 we learn that “though the wicked sprout like grass and all evildoers flourish, they are doomed to destruction forever,” while in v12 we see that “the righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar” that still bears fruit in old age and is ever full of sap and green (v14). 

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The wicked have their day in the sun, their flash in the pan, their proverbial “15 minutes of fame.” They sprout like grass, which grows rapidly but provides little value and fades away just as quickly as it appeared. Although these people are often among the most prominent in the world and seem to be successful by worldly standards (we might even envy them sometimes), in the end, such people are doomed to destruction.

The righteous, however, are like palm or cedar trees. Palm trees take about five years to grow a trunk and another 15 years to produce coconuts, but they can live for hundreds of years. They represent slow growth and much fruit, just the opposite of grass.

Cedars are evergreen trees that can grow to over 150 ft and live up to 300 years. They are known for their alluring scent and have an ornamental quality because of their beauty. Cedar is also used for guitar tops and is known for its warm tone. Cedar trees represent beauty, warmth, and an inviting aroma. We might think of this aroma as “the fragrance of life” that is mentioned in 2 Cor. 2:16.

The Long Blessings of Slow Growth

In contrast to the wicked, the righteous grow slowly but they live long and fruitful lives. For such people, what often looks like a season of fruitlessness is actually a season of preparation. If we see a tree as only useful when there is ripe fruit to pick, we might see it as useless at all other times. 

But trees are not useless during seasons when the fruit is not visibly emerging. During times of not bearing fruit, a tree is still being prepared to be fruitful: it is being pruned and watered and weathered, all of which will make the fruit sweeter and more abundant. Even the blessed person is not bearing fruit in all seasons but in the appointed season; there is a cyclical pattern to fruit-bearing. 

If you are in a season that feels barren and fruitless, take heart – over time, if we are persistent in our pursuit of God and obedient to his will and plan, we will bear fruit. Now might be a time when you are being pruned and watered and weathered so that your fruit will be both sweeter and more abundant when the appointed season comes. 

So, as for you, do not grow weary in doing good.

Today’s featured image is available as a photo or canvas print. Please visit my store on Facebook for details.