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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Help for a Broken World


Have you ever had to go to a specialist?  It seems these days that there are specialists in EVERYTHING.  Even restaurants have started putting on their signage, “specializing in Italian cuisine,” or whatever kind they happen to be.  I always think of medicine when I think of specialists, as the family doctor will make referrals to them when difficulties arise.  A few years ago I learned that there are specialists called “cardio-thoracic surgeons;”  I always assumed that a cardiologist was THE heart specialist, but learned there are specialties beyond that.  

It’s probably a good thing, but sometimes it seems like specialties get overdone. At the same time, when you have certain medical conditions, you certainly want to be talking to the proper people, right?  You want the specialist then!

The heart specialist I think we need in our world is a broken heart specialist!  It seems to me that there are a lot of broken hearts out there in our world, as dreams shatter and hopes crash.  Hearts break when careers are cut short, when loved ones are lost to death and when relationships are broken through estrangements or divorce.  From the breakup of childhood sweethearts to the death of a spouse after 50 years, broken hearts abound.  

Has your heart ever been broken?  Perhaps it was broken by another person, perhaps by a tragic loss, or perhaps you are one of those compassionate people whose heart breaks anytime you see the suffering of others in our world.  There are lots of folks who could sure use a broken heart specialist!  I know there are plenty of times I have needed one.  

So, just as individuals share the name of a good specialist when their friends need one, I thought maybe I’d refer you to the broken heart specialist I found, in case you or someone you know needs one.

As I begin, let me show you a passage from Isaiah 61 in the New American Standard Bible:

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord”

Isaiah 61:1-2a  NASB

This is the passage, quoted in summary fashion in Luke 4,  read by Jesus from the scroll given to him in the synagogue, publicly announcing the beginning of his ministry.

Now, there is a very good chance that this was the reading that came naturally in the cycle of biblical readings for synagogue services.  (notice in this passage that Jesus is handed the Isaiah scroll), which means he chose to make his announcement coincide with the day that passage was scheduled.  Although is is also possible that Jesus, as the guest speaker, chose this passage himself to read for the day’s exposition as a guest speaker.  Either way, he chose this selection out of all the possible messianic prophecies he could have chosen.  I believe this is a significant point.  Just as a medical student reaches a point in which he or she must choose his or her specialty, so God also chooses this manner to announce a specialty that includes assistance for the brokenhearted.

In my life, I have found that my physical body heals up a lot more easily than my inner being does. Kind of like the silly commercials on television these days that announce that words really can hurt, we all have awareness of events in our lives that leave behind bruises, scrapes and tears on a broken heart.  

I often think about King David, and the multiple times he faced betrayal and abandonment in his life.  His heart must have been broken and aching so many times.  But what did David do about it?  He turned to the specialist…he sought God’s healing, and as a result, we have the book of Psalms, the great heritage of the Jewish people and a Messiah who came through the lineage of David.  In my opinion David's specialist was pretty good.

When Jesus began his ministry and declared what his calling and mission were - he did so by reading this passage from Isaiah.   Jesus chooses a passage which aptly describes the compassionate care of a loving savior.  Ponder for a moment the scriptures that he did NOT choose to read as he declared his specialty.  

             Jesus did not choose to read the prophecy about the descendent of David
             who would sit on the throne forever, though he fulfilled that one as well.  

             Jesus did not read the passage about the seed of Eve who would bruise 
             the head of the serpent of old and his ministry certainly fulfilled that 
             one too.  

             Jesus  did not read about coming with power, or being the prophet 
             who would follow in the footsteps of Moses, nor the suffering servant of 
             Isaiah 53, nor about the virgin birth and not even about the coming of a 
             shepherd who would care for the people of Israel. 

There are a lot of other messianic prophecies that he did not choose as well.  Significant as all those things are, they were not what he felt was the key to the announcement of his life’s work.

Jesus chose instead a passage about preaching to the poor, release to the captives, eyesight to the blind (mentioned in Luke from the Greek Isaiah) and the binding up of the broken hearted.  

In other words, he chose this passage about compassion and healing as the identifying hallmark of his ministry from the very start.  

I appreciate that Jesus made this his first priority.  

And as you read about how he invested his time, you indeed find the story of one whose life was filled with great compassion.  He had time for lepers that were shunned from society, individuals bound in poverty, for other outcasts such as women of poor reputation, Roman soldiers, wild party guys, even tax collectors (and THAT must have required great compassion!).  

He was at the side of those in mourning, blind beggars and lots of individuals who today would have disabled stickers on their windshields.  He just cared about people.  And, of course, that was most profoundly demonstrated by his sacrifice on the cross to give us the opportunity to be lifted out of the worst bondage of all, the bondage to a sinful lifestyle and the resulting eternal penalty.

If you have struggled with a broken heart, whatever the cause, I would recommend that you make an appointment with this specialist.  My experience is that there is no wiser counselor, no better listener, no more faithful friend, no more understanding companion, no more skilled physician and no better prescription than this God who came to us through the incarnation as offers to bind up our broken hearts.  I’d give you his business card, but he doesn't need one, as his practice is accessible all around the globe.  You can access his treatment program by opening your Bible, and consulting with him wherever you happen to be.  He has also established a good support program in the form of local churches (though remember, they all contain hurting people who are in need of healing, too).  He does have a phone number - I have been told that God’s phone number is Jeremiah 33:3, though I often refer folks to the theme verse of my books, Jeremiah 29:13.  

Take your broken heart and give him a call; he is always willing to take on new clients and patients in need of his expertise. 

 In a world filled with brokenhearted people, it’s good to know there is someone who can help.

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