why we need a broken heart.

I almost scrolled past it. Even when I talk about people in need and want to do something for them, even in the midst of good intentions and brave words, it is so easy to miss the pain and heartache of another.

A friend posted pictures of relief being given in Haiti after Hurricane Matthew. I almost scrolled past them. It is hard to know why all the way. Perhaps because it isn’t as tempting as click-bait promises of 5 ways of something or other. It simply isn’t as entertaining as Buzzfeed or a friend’s vacation pictures. 

And if I’m honest, I don’t want to feel that pain and heartbreak right now. I’m enjoying my first quiet moments of the day, and don’t want to spend them aching for someone else.


But then, I remember who I want to be.

I want to be someone who sees. I don’t want to cover my eyes just because it is someone else or because it is painful.

I want to be someone who cares.

I want to be brokenhearted for the broken things in our world.

I click on the link, and I can hardly bear the weight of it all. There are remote regions that have yet to receive aid. There are sure to be orphaned, starving children waiting, hoping, languishing there. Christ, have mercy.

The devastation is tremendous. Home upon home upon home is destroyed.

My heart breaks, as I think it is meant to.

It was a few nights ago that my husband tossed me a copy of The Week. It is about a month old, but it was passed onto us and we’re just getting to reading it. The two page article on the starving people of Venezuela stops me in my tracks. I can’t stop the tears.

The injustice of people waiting in line for hours on end, just for the hope of basic supplies. Murder happening before their eyes, but no one daring to leave the line, for fear of starvation. A woman gives birth in line, because she has no food and doesn’t want to risk missing out on her own chance for nourishment. Elderly collapse in line because they have been waiting all day for aid. Meals are skipped because there simply isn’t food.

I sit and cry, aching for these parents who can not feed their children. I cry for the brokenness of it all, that there is no way to help when their government refuses any kind of assistance. I cry that this has been happening for months and nothing is changing.

And I can’t help but think that Jesus is aching and crying for these things too. As much as it hurts and I want to look away, I don’t think Jesus does.

I don’t think Jesus looks away when things hurt or are painful. In fact, I think he’s probably a weeper. I think he’s the one to not care if it is awkward or inconvenient or looks crazy. I think he is the one who is brokenhearted and near to the brokenhearted when things aren’t as they should be. As my friend, Haley says, “Jesus would be a terrible dinner guest.”  He wouldn’t be afraid to wail and weep when someone is truly hurting.


Jesus never disengages with pain.

I find comfort in how Jesus wept for his friend, Lazarus who died. I take comfort that Jesus truly understands what loss feels like and the pain of suffering. He knows what it is to be human.

I used to think that a broken heart was a season, something to work through and heal from. But now I wonder if we are meant to always have a broken heart. Ann Voskamp says that “when the Church isn’t for the suffering–the church isn’t for Christ.” And I think she may be right. Being in the midst of the suffering and pain is where we find Jesus, and I don’t think that can happen without our hearts being broken regularly. 

I’m not the best at this. I know how it is to read things someone writes. It almost automatically sounds polished and put together, like they have it figured it out. Please hear beyond how it sounds when I write these words.

The truth is that I love comfort and convenience as much as the next person. I burst into tears today when the breaker went out and my bread machine wasn’t finished baking my bread. I want things to go my way. I want to care about things, but when it is convenient. I can handle interruptions, as long as there aren’t too many and don’t take too long. I want to cry for sad things, but when I’m not wearing mascara or have somewhere to be in the next few hours. I want to help hurting people, but when I have plenty of money in my bank account or the time to spare. 


I love what Shannan Martin writes in her beautiful, convicting, hilarious and honest book, Falling Free:

God gives us the job of loving him with all our hearts and loving our neighbors well. Not modern-American “well enough,” but messy, swerve-toward-the-ditch, shuck your coat, purge your world, give in your lack, Jesus-brand of “well.” Another way to say it is, love them exactly as much as we love ourselves. It feels downright impossible, because, holy cow, do I ever love myself. I love myself so much, I often doubt there are reserves left to give.

Thankfully, Jesus taught us how to do this love thing. It doesn’t mean it’s easy or straightforward, just that we have a goes-everywhere teacher, a personal grace tutor. It means this dance is more complex than we want to think, but also much simpler. We’re tasked with learning the hard moves, but if we let him lead, he won’t let us face-plant on the ballroom floor. (118)

These moves feel so incredibly hard to me, as a girl who wants to stay safe and warm and comfy. But it also feels easier and freeing than I thought to have a broken heart and to let myself love the people who hurt. As I cried on the couch for Venezuela, I found Jesus. I found Jesus because I think he is crying for Venezuela too.  And as uncomfortable and painful it is to look suffering in the face, I think it is where we find Jesus. 

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18


shannanI’ve read Shannan Martin’s blog for a while now, but felt like I got to see behind the scenes of what God has been doing over the past years as I read her vulnerable, brave book, Falling Free. She lets you see how much like us she is. This isn’t the story of how great and noble her family is to do such amazing things. This is the story of a reluctant family who slowly discovered their own wrong assumptions about God and what it meant to follow him.

When God asked Shannan and her family to give up her dream home to live with less, in an urban neighborhood, it was the last thing she wanted. Her “safe” life was sacrificed because the Lord asked for it, and she shares the freedom and messiness that comes with following Jesus. Shannan is honest about the journey of her family, transparent about difficult topics like money and real sacrifice and makes me feel like I could really live this kind of radical life.

I want everyone to read this book. I had to slow myself down to soak it all in, instead of racing through the pages of her fabulous writing. This book is sobering and filled with hope for what it means to follow Jesus with what we have. I loved it to pieces. A+ for me.

Booklook Bloggers and Thomas Nelson books provided me with a complimentary copy of the book. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Thank you for writing this. Yep. I am with you. It costs to care.
    Man. I want to read Shannan’s book. I love the excerpt you include.
    Love you forever,


  2. Thanks Alison – I really get your caring. ❤
    My best understanding is the Christ reigns in our spiritual hearts, there is love!
    Many blessings your way,
    Debbie xo


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