God is Near to the Brokenhearted

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted

and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18 NIV).

 

You don’t have to go very far in the Bible to see that God is near to the brokenhearted. In Genesis there are a number of occasions where God pursues and is near to the brokenhearted. Let’s look at two examples from the book of Genesis: Adam & Eve and Hagar. In the beginning, God created man. In Genesis 2:17 God tells Adam:

You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die (NIV).

Then God created Eve. They were both innocent and blameless: “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed (Genesis 2:25 NIV).” Then the serpent enters the picture. It didn’t take long, before the serpent tempted man to doubt God’s goodness. He approached Eve and asks: “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden (Genesis 3:1b NIV)?’” Eve’s response is not the exact command God gave Adam in Genesis 2:17. Instead she adds that not only are they not to eat from the tree, but “you must not touch it, or you will die (Genesis 3:3 NIV).’” The serpent was cunning and he responded with:

 

4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:4-5 NIV).”

 

Seeing that the fruit on the “tree was good for food,” “a delight to the eyes,” and “desirable to make one wise (Genesis 3:6 NIV)” Eve ate it and shared it with her husband Adam who was with her. Immediately they gained wisdom of good and evil as God and the serpent had promised, but it cost them their innocence:

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves (Genesis 3:7 NIV).

Never had their nakedness bothered them.   However, with their innocence lost, shame and brokenness entered the world. In their shame and brokenness – they hid. They hid their nakedness with leaves and then they physically hid from God when they heard him coming.

In their shame and brokenness – God came to them. God approached them. He didn’t abandon them. There would be consequences for their disobedience, but God didn’t stop loving them. In fact, God calls to them: “Where are you (Genesis 3:9 NIV)?” Never had Adam and Eve hid from God. Yet even in their brokenness God pursued Adam and Eve. He wasn’t just asking “Where are you?” He was asking: why are you hiding? Where are your hearts? He knew what had happened, but he wanted Adam and Eve to admit the wrong and then ask for forgiveness. If you never admit you are broken or hurting, God can never heal you.

God still pursues. In our shame and brokenness, he asks the same question – “Where are you?” God never leaves us. We are the ones who pull away and try to hide. Yet God in his infinites love and mercy pursues us just as he pursued Adam and Eve. He never stops loving us. He never abandons us.

Another broken and hurting person in Genesis God pursued is Hagar. If you aren’t familiar with Hagar’s story, Hagar was Sarah’s maidservant. Sarah was married to Abraham. God had promised to make Abraham into a great nation, yet he and Sarah remained childless well beyond their child-bearing years. In pagan cultures of that time, it was acceptable for a wife to obtain children through her servants. These children would be considered her own. So, Sarah tells Abraham to sleep with her maidservant Hagar and have children with her on Sarah’s behalf. Essentially, she gets impatient with God and takes matters into her own hands, always a recipe for disaster.

Hagar does conceive, but Hagar’s reaction to being used in this way was to despise Sarah. Can you blame her? She was a pawn. Abraham didn’t love her. This wasn’t a child born of love or Hagar’s wishes, after all she was just a servant forced to do as she was told. Sarah’s reaction to Hagar despising her was to blame Abraham. Abraham instructed Sarah “…your maid is in your power; do to her what is good in your sight (Genesis 16:6 NASB).” What Sarah decided was good was to mistreat her pregnant servant so badly Hagar fled.

Hagar fled, but God pursued her: “Now the angel of the Lord found her (Genesis 16:7a NASB).” God asked Hagar a question very similar to the question he asked Adam and Eve: “where have you come from and where are you going (Genesis 16:8 NASB)?” God knew the answer, but again he wanted Hagar to acknowledge why she was running. That she was broken-hearted. She admitted to fleeing from Sarah. God didn’t rebuke her for running away from her mistress. He didn’t condone Sarah’s mistreatment of her either.

However, he commanded Hagar to “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority (Genesis 16:9 NASB).” That was a hard command for someone who had been mistreated. God wasn’t condoning abuse. What transpired between Hagar, Abraham and Sarah was not God’s will. Hagar’s pregnancy was the result of Abraham and Sarah’s own sinfulness and rebellion. Yet God is in the business of redemption.

He takes our brokenness, our shattered lives, and puts them back together. God promised to bless Hagar: “I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count (Genesis 16:10b NASB).” A servant, a seemingly insignificant woman would be the mother of a great nation. God told her she would give birth to a son and his name shall be “Ismael, Because the Lord has given heed to your affliction (Genesis 16:11 NASB).” Ishmael means “God hears (MacArthur, 37).” Hagar’s response to God was “You are the God who sees (Genesis 16:13 NASB).” Hagar recognized she was “the object of God’s gracious attention (MacArthur, 38).” Hagar was a run-away. A servant. Mistreated. Used. Pregnant with the child of her mistress’ husband. Yet in her brokenness God pursued her. God was near to her. God saw her. God blessed her. He spoke blessing and hope into her seemingly hopeless circumstances.

I can’t help but interject one more early example of “the God who sees.” Exodus 2:24-25 states:

So God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 25 God saw the sons of Israel, and God took notice of them (NASB).

Why? The Israelites had been enslaved and mistreated by the Egyptians. They were in bondage and they cried out to God. God hadn’t forgotten about the Israelites.

When we see scripture use the phrase, “God Remembered,” it doesn’t mean he forgets, it means, “He Acts (Smith, 66).”

God saw them in their affliction. In their brokenness. God did not leave the Israelites to suffer. The second half of verse 25 in the New Living Translation is not translated “God took notice of them,” but rather God: “knew it was time to act.” In fact, Exodus details God’s actions to deliver the Israelites from their life of slavery and mistreatment.

An example of God’s actions to deliver the Israelites was when he parted the Red Sea. The Israelites had just fled Egypt and they found themselves trapped – the Red Sea on one side and the entire Egyptian army on the other. The Israelites aren’t soldiers, they aren’t equipped to fight a battle against an army. In this seemingly hopeless situation they are terrified. They cry out to God and complain to Moses that death is certain. Amidst these circumstances, they declare slavery and mistreatment were better.

How does Moses respond?

Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. 14 The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent (Exodus 14:13-14 NASB).”

I love it! All they had to do was be quiet and watch God fight on their behalf. God saw the Israelites in their seemingly hopeless circumstances and God “knew it was time to act.” God saw me in my affliction and by his grace he didn’t leave me there to suffer either. I cried out to God and he “knew it was time to act” on my behalf. God sees you in your affliction. He will act on your behalf too. He can bring healing and restore hope. All you need to do is ask and then watch God fight for you! Hold on tight, because God will show up in a big way! He may not show up exactly how you expect, but trust me – he has better plans than we do! He knows what is ultimately best for us. He can heal any hurt and he can redeem your seemingly hopeless circumstances.

If you feel hopeless or brokenhearted – know that you are in a place of special favor with God. Amidst your brokenness, you are not alone. As Psalm 34:18 states: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted (NIV).” Not only is God close to you, but He is ready and willing to save you from that brokenness if you submit it to Him. He is ready to heal:

 

He heals the brokenhearted

and bandages their wounds (Psalm 147:3 NIV).

 

I love how He promises to not only heal, but He is there to attend to the brokenhearted, dressing their very wounds.

 

4 who redeems your life from the pit

and crowns you with love and compassion,

5 who satisfies your desires with good things

so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

6 The LORD works righteousness

and justice for all the oppressed.

 

8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,

slow to anger, abounding in love.

9 He will not always accuse,

nor will he harbor his anger forever;

10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve

or repay us according to our iniquities.

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

so great is his love for those who fear him;

12 as far as the east is from the west,

so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on his children,

so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him (Psalm 103:4-6; 8-13 NIV);

 

If there were ever anyone who is in a pit, it is the brokenhearted. Those who find themselves at the end of their rope. Overwhelmed by despair and the hurt in their lives. Know that if you are in that place, God is with you. Ask Him to save you from that pit, that broken heartedness, and He will! I am proof of that! If He could rescue me from my broken heartedness, He can rescue you too! God “will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5 NKJV).” God is compassionate and gracious. His love is abundant. So much so that even “as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his (God’s) love for those who fear him (Psalm 103:11 NIV).” Dear one, take heart, if you are brokenhearted, God can heal you and restore hope!

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