TITLE: Healing Broken Hearts through the Atonement
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S. Richard Nelson - August 2011
I recently heard our Pastor preach:"...set aside all pride and turn your life and your heart to [Christ]. Ask to be filled with the power of Christ's pure love? I testify to you that your body, mind and spirit can be transformed, cleansed and made whole, and you will be freed. Jesus said, 'I am the light of the world: He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." Speaking as one who has walked in darkness, this message fills me with great hope.
The message of spiritual healing runs contrary to the teachings and practices of today's modern psychologists and wisest thinkers. But in the Book of Psalms, Chapter 147, we read the following verses:
The LORD doth build up Jerusalem: he gathereth together the outcasts of Israel. He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. Great is our Lord, and of great power. - Psalm 147:2-5
As I read this Psalm, I am impressed with the connection in which these verses stand; "He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names." What condescension and magnificence! What compassion and omnipotence! Jesus Christ arranges the stars in immeasurable orbits, yet at the same time, He is the Healer of men's souls, and stoops over our broken hearts. With his own tender fingers He closes our wounds and binds them with the liniment of love. The Maker of Heaven and earth is also the Physician for broken hearts and wounded spirits.
I am also fascinated by the connection with the verse that comes before it: "The Lord doth build up Jerusalem: he gathereth together the outcasts of Israel." The church of God is built up of broken hearts and outcasts. God brings together a people who have a deep experience, who know the guilt of sin, who are broken and ground to powder under a sense of their own inability and unworthiness. Without the experience of sin, there is seldom much appreciation for the doctrine of grace, and not much enthusiasm in praising the Savior's name. Christ's church is built up of members who have been pulled down. Unless we recognize in our hearts the absolute need for a Savior, we are unworthy. Anyone who has never been in the dungeon, who has never been in the abyss, who has never felt cast out from the sight of God, can never adequately comfort the outcasts or console the broken hearted.
In his sermon, "Christ's Hospital", Charles Spurgeon states: "May the Lord break many hearts, and then bind them up, that with them he may build up the church, and inhabit it!"
We understand the condescension of God to mean the love of God for His children but condescend is a curious word. It means to drop to a less dignified level and to set aside the privileges of rank. Jesus was the Son of God, the child of the Almighty, the creator of the earth. But He willingly and knowingly set aside every privilege pertaining to His divine son-ship and came to earth under the most humble circumstances. Then, in the greatest act in human history, He suffered the anguish of human sin until great drops of blood fell from every pore. He allowed His trembling flesh to be nailed to the cross in an act of atonement for each of us.
There are people have actually died from a broken heart; but there are so many more who live with broken hearts. These patients of the great Healer are those whose hearts are broken through sorrow, through disappointment and through bereavement. Hearts are broken in a thousand ways, for we live in a heart-breaking world. Christ is good at healing all manner of heart-breaks, but, there is a special brokenness of heart to which Christ gives the very tenderest attention. He heals those whose hearts are broken because of sin. Christ reveals himself to the broken hearted as the Comforter and the Healer.
As for the broken-hearted ones themselves, they do not think that they ever can be healed and they settle in to sullen despair. But it is when a soul cannot stir, or help itself, that God delights to come in with his omnipotence, and lift the heavy load, and set the burdened one free.
Healing broken hearts comes by the atonement, atonement by substitution, Christ suffering in our stead. He suffered for everyone who believes in him, and he that believes in him is not condemned, and never can be condemned, for the condemnation due him is laid upon Christ. He is clear before the bar of justice as well as before the throne of mercy.
Christ's life and atonement extend not only to those who are sinning but to those who suffer pains, afflictions, infirmities, and temptations of every kind. Those who have suffered abuse, neglect or mistreatment-whatever the weakness or trial-can find healing through the Savior, Jesus Christ.
His all-encompassing healing power is beautifully expressed in the prayerful words of the hymn Master, the Tempest Is Raging:
"Master, with anguish of spirit I bow in my grief today.
The depths of my sad heart are troubled.
Oh, waken and save, I pray!
Torrents of sin and of anguish
Sweep o'er my sinking soul,
And I perish! I perish! dear Master.
Oh, hasten and take control!"
The children of Adam must experience the bitterness of mortality, but they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good. If they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet. The role of the Atonement is to compensate for, thereby healing us from, the effects of the bitter. The grace of Christ, unlocked by his atoning sacrifice, heals us from the wounds of our sins and all our other infirmities.
Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can learn from our experience without being condemned by our experience.
After his return from the wilderness, Jesus quoted a passage from Isaiah 61 that states: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised." (Luke 4:18.) In the Old Testament Isaiah adds, "To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. . . ." (Isaiah 61:3.)
By referring to the bruised and brokenhearted, the Savior defined His Atonement as the healing power not only for sin but also for carelessness, inadequacy, and the entire range of mortal bitterness. The Atonement is not just for sinners but for those who suffer from the abuses of sin.
Perhaps the greatest realization of my life-the key to healing for me-came when I finally understood that Christ saves us not only from our sins but also from our afflictions, our inadequacies, and our inabilities. There are no words to express the depth of my feelings about the Savior's love or the power He wants to exercise on our behalf.
The surest, most effective, and shortest path to healing comes through application of the teachings of Jesus Christ. It begins with an understanding of and appreciation for the principles of moral agency and the atonement. It leads to faith in Christ and obedience to His commandments, and that brings healing.
Thanks be to God for the gift of His Son and thanks be to the Lord Jesus Christ for the gift of His life, which makes possible for each of us the blessing of eternal life. Nothing is of greater significance in all the history of the world than that atoning sacrifice of the Son of God.
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