"Praise the Lord! Because it is good to sing praise to our God! Because it is a pleasure to make beautiful praise! . . . God heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds." - Psalm 147:1,3
Like an old broken record that keeps playing the same tune, the verse about the brokenhearted is constantly replaying in my mind. I think it's because broken hearts are all around me. The broken heart of the young man whose dreams were shattered, and the broken hearts of his parents when he hanged himself. The heartbroken couple whose love and bright hopes faded into an undreamed of divorce. The mother whose heart was broken by a child who will no longer speak to her. The broken heart I catch glimpses of in a neighbor's angry and sullen behavior. And my own still-scarred heart from the decline and death of a devoted wife.
But then I hear playing over and over that reassuring verse: "God heals the brokenhearted." God heals. We say that time heals, and often it does. And some good people bring healing with their care and compassion. Those are, I think, things God uses to heal. But sometimes too God's healing comes silently, gradually, surprisingly, graciously, as an unseen gift from above. And the heart we thought was beyond repair is made whole again. In whatever way the healing comes, with a mended heart and joy restored, we are able to say "it is good to sing praise to our God."
And sing we may, and should, to let the world know about the God who heals. St. Francis said: "What else are the servants of God, but God's minstrels, whose work it is to lift up people's hearts to spiritual joy, that they might love God gladly."
The brokenhearted, when they are healed, make good minstrels.
Our broken hearts are so painful, God, but we are confident that you can heal them. We give you thanks for hearts that are mended and ask your mercy for those that are still hurting. Amen.
William H. Armstrong is a retired United Church of Christ minister who also served as a Peace Corps official in Ethiopia and Swaziland. His most recent book is Thinking Through the Children's Sermon.