by Alan Allegra
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Rumor has it that former Olympic skater Picabu Street donated money toward a new hospital wing. It’s known as the Picabu ICU. All right, so the joke is not that funny. There’s also nothing funny about a heart attack and a visit to an Intensive Care Unit.
When you suffer from a physically broken heart, you head to the hospital. Where do you go when you suffer an emotionally broken heart? There is nothing funny about that, either—it is a very serious matter that needs attention.
Last week, we saw that the Lord, the Great Physician, “is near to those who have a broken heart” (Psalm 34:18, NKJV). His pager is prayer, and His script is Scripture. God has a regimen to heal the broken heart.
The ancient Greeks had a familiar saying, “Know thyself.” It was believed that once a person understood himself, he could understand the mysteries of the world around him. Many people, after being hurt, leave everything behind on a quest to follow their heart and find themselves. However, the first step to healing is to acknowledge that “the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). We can easily be fooled by the desires and feelings of our heart. Only One has the “training” necessary to prescribe the right cure: “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve” (Jeremiah 7:10). Once we accept the fact that God alone has the remedy, we can move forward with rehabilitation.
The next step to heart health is to remove yourself from the things that have hurt or will hurt our heart. We must develop a good case of the “flees”:
• Flee from false teachers (John 10:5)
• Flee sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18)
• Flee idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14)
• Flee the love of money (1 Timothy 6:11)
• Flee youthful lusts (2 Timothy 2:22)
To put the above prescription in an easy to swallow formula:
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
This will not leave our heart empty. The flip side of this prescription is: “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).
Once we have removed the irritants from our heart, we can begin healing, keeping in mind that, in a fallen world, it may take a long time, and you may never regain full strength. However, you can continue to be fruitful. When Paul pleaded for the Lord to remove his thorn in the flesh, Jesus replied, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Many doctors say the recovery process is heavily influenced by the patient’s attitude. Hopeful patients have happier attitudes and increase their chance of recovery. “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). We must keep a positive attitude of faith in God’s recovery plan.
Forgiveness is essential to recovery. “Nursing” a grudge does not make it better, but worse. “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). The ability to forgive is a sign of a good heart.
When physicians study the heart, they study a model of a healthy heart. The purpose of therapy is to get the damaged heart up to the standard of that perfect heart. It may not be entirely possible, but it’s a goal worth striving for. God has the perfect heart, and the wise man makes every effort to have a heart like His. God’s commendation of King David was, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will” (Acts 13:22). God will use the person who trains to have a holy, obedient heart.
A heart attack is a humbling situation—it puts us at the mercy of others, and the pain reminds us of our mortality. “For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones’” (Isaiah 57:15, NKJV). God can only revive the heart of those who humble themselves before Him.
We must deal with the pain of broken hearts until “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). Until then, we must make constant visits to God’s ICU.
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