I saw this section of fence while out on a walk. It’s been neglected for a very long time. No one tended to it by painting it or mending it, yet it still stands, held together by roots and branches. It’s still there, but it is shattered in places and vulnerable to the attack of weather, lichens, insects, and age. It reminds me of a broken heart held together by coping methods, but not by love. It’s still standing, beautiful in an interesting way, but decaying.
When Jesus read out his personal manifesto (recorded hundreds of years earlier through the prophet Isaiah) in the synagogue in Nazareth, he told the people one of his purposes was to bind up the broken-hearted. Why bind? Why not heal instantly like he did for the blind and lame?
Through the prophet Ezekiel, God chides the shepherds of Israel for healing people superficially and failing to “bind up the broken-hearted.” I wonder if it’s because the process of shattering our hearts requires process to heal. Wounding through episodes of neglect, rejection, abuse, betrayal, disappointment, and loss (and all the other consequences of living in a fallen world) happens over time. Someone told me once that if the damage occurred in relationship, healing needs to occur in relationship. Jesus offers that kind of loving relationship that wraps the heart in swaddling bandages to keep it protected while healing.
The compassionate are continually wounded by not only assaults on their own hearts, but by what they see and feel around them when people they care about suffer deep wounds. Sometimes, it’s all too much. They “fall apart.” Without the arms of their Saviour holding them together and binding up their own wounds, and strengthening them with empowering grace, they would succumb to false comforts that would use them and leave them vulnerable to the elements of fear, hate, despair and apathy.
Jesus came to bind up the broken hearted – if we will let him.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
Isaiah 61:1-3 NIV
Creative Meditations for Lent, Prompt Word: Broken