Life, Hope & Truth

From the January/February 2020 issue of Discern Magazine

How to Heal a Broken Heart

Have you ever suffered a broken heart? Have you felt like you have been turned inside out, uncertain if you could carry on? Here’s how to heal a broken heart.

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How to heal a broken heart

  1. Ask, “Why, God?”
  2. Avoid thinking, “What’s the use?”
  3. Move forward.
  4. Pray.
  5. Saturate your mind with scriptures about comfort, help, love, strength, hope and peace.
  6. “Meditate on these things.”
  7. Discover your purpose in life.
  8. Believe that the best is yet ahead.

Examples of broken hearts

A broken heart can mean a wide range of things today. Though it can be used lightly, it can also be a poignant description of a state of mind brought on by catastrophic events.

Here are some examples of broken hearts from current news items:

  • A father is brokenhearted over the murder of his teenage son.
  • A couple is heartbroken after suffering a miscarriage and then learning that they are unable to have children.
  • An entire nation has a collective broken heart after suffering a massive terrorist attack.
  • Scientists find a broken heart over the death of a spouse can be fatal. This has been called the broken heart syndrome and the widowhood effect.

What is a broken heart?

The definition of a broken heart includes “a state of extreme grief or depression.” Perhaps the most obvious cause is the death of a loved one. Divorce, sometimes called “the death that never ends,” is another. The sudden ending of other deep, long-term relationships also causes heartbreak.

A broken heart could also involve abandonment or betrayal by someone on whom you depended—a parent, friend or child.

Every broken heart means some measure of loss—of companionship, of physical independence, of financial independence, of health, of mobility, of purpose in life, of life itself.

It might have happened to you or to someone very close to you. But whatever the case, life has changed. “Normal” has changed. Forever.

You feel exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally. You are spent, drained, hopeless. That is a broken heart.

Bible verses about healing a broken heart

God cares for those who are suffering emotional distress, relationship breakups and every type of acute sorrow.A famous prophecy declares that the Messiah was sent “to heal the brokenhearted” (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18). God cares for those who are suffering emotional distress, relationship breakups and every type of acute sorrow.

This article looks at how He helps heal a broken heart.

The Hebrew word for “broken” in Isaiah 61:1 is “most often used to express bursting or breaking,” as well as to smash or shatter. The parallel Greek word in Luke 4:18 conveys a similar intense meaning, to “crush together” or “break in pieces” (The Complete Word Study Bible Dictionary, 2003).

The messianic promise is most assuredly about Jesus Christ healing “a state of extreme grief or depression.”

The psalmist also wrote this encouraging description of God: “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).

(The Bible also speaks of a broken or contrite heart in terms of repentance, as explained in our article “Why Does God Look for a Broken and Contrite Heart?” But this article focuses on the emotional connection.)

Eight steps to healing your broken heart

Following are eight steps to receiving Jesus’ healing of your broken heart.

1. Ask, Why, God?” We naturally begin by wanting to know why. You can find biblical answers to the big questions, such as: Why does God seem to hide? Why does He allow you to suffer? Why did He allow your loved one to die? Why does He allow natural disasters? Why does He allow the catastrophes of terrorism or war?

We have articles on all of these questions on our website under “Why Does God Allow Evil and Suffering?” Understanding the answers will lay a foundation on which your healing can be built.

2. Avoid thinking, “What’s the use?” Don’t drift into this mind-set, giving in to destructive coping mechanisms—overeating, abusing alcohol, taking illegal drugs or just aimlessly wasting your time. Bitterness over your circumstances can trigger this, as can anger (the “hot side” of depression).

A broken heart will change you. But it doesn’t have to be destructive, even if, for a time, it seems that way. God promises: “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite [crushed] and humble [depressed] spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isaiah 57:15).

God can help you avoid falling into the pit of self-destructive behaviors. And, if you have already fallen in, He can help you climb out. Our article “Five Enemies of Hope” can help.

3. Move forward. Decide not to perpetually lament your loss. I’m not saying, “Just get over it” or “Don’t grieve.” You need to grieve! But don’t get stuck on rehashing what can’t be changed. Beware of advice, even from good-hearted people, that only keeps you in the past.

The apostle Paul lost his career, his standing in the community, the respect of his peers, perhaps even his marriage. He chose to refocus: “One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

“Any temptation [or great trial] you face will be nothing new. But God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can handle. But He always provides a way of escape so that you will be able to endure and keep moving forward” (1 Corinthians 10:13, The Voice).

4. Pray. Often. That is the key to unlocking God’s spiritual healing. It seems that even the least spiritually oriented person cries out to God when brokenhearted. That’s okay.

If you haven’t known before how to simply talk with God, now you can learn. Honestly and unreservedly just pour out your heart. Weep when you need to. “Prayer From the Heart” discusses the prayers of several biblical characters who needed to cry out to God.

5. Saturate your mind with scriptures about comfort, help, love, strength, hope and peace. We offer lists of dozens of verses on each of these in “Encouraging Bible Verses.” These aren’t “secret words” with mystical healing powers, to be tapped by reciting them over and over. But if you believe them and act on them, then you will find the way to healing your broken heart.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones” (Proverbs 3:5-8, emphasis added).

6. “Meditate on these things.” That’s what the apostle Paul wrote at the end of a list of positive mind-sets in Philippians 4:8. Christian meditation is thinking through the meaning and personal application of what you read in God’s Word.

A broken heart is a spiritual issue. It requires spiritual help. Godly meditation is “spiritual medication,” to use the healing analogy. For direction, use our articles “What Is Meditation?” and “Christian Meditation.”

7. Discover your purpose in life. Jesus famously counseled His disciples not to worry about life—what they would eat, what they would drink, what they would wear. These are the necessities of life! Yet He pointedly asked whether life isn’t more than these things (see Matthew 6:25).

For the brokenhearted, the questions might be, “Is not life more than marriage? Than friendship? Than career? Than health?”

Intellectually, we might answer, “Yes.” But emotionally it’s much, much harder to answer in the affirmative.

It is crushing, heartbreaking, when these are snatched from you. But their loss can cause you to follow the advice Jesus gave at the end of this discussion. He told His disciples to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” and He gave His word that “all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

Your core purpose for being alive wasn’t just so that you could have any of those things you have now lost. It’s greater than you could ever imagine. Find out what it is with God’s Purpose for You: Discovering Why You Were Born.

8. Believe that the best is yet ahead. There is a better world coming. This is not just a tagline. It’s the “in case of emergency, break glass” point! It’s what you turn to when your heart is still broken.

God inspired Isaiah to promise that someday “there will be a king who rules with integrity, and national leaders who govern with justice. Each of them will be like a shelter from the wind and a place to hide from storms. They will be like streams flowing in a desert, like the shadow of a giant rock in a barren land” (Isaiah 32:1-2, Good News Translation).

Jesus Christ is that King. The world He rules will be a world transformed. It will be a world filled with life. With family. With health. With hope. Nothing we experience in this life—good or bad—can compare with what is coming.

Draw strength from this genuine good news. This publication will help you find the promise of it in Scripture: The Mystery of the Kingdom.

Jesus Christ truly does heal the brokenhearted. He can begin healing yours now.

About the Author

Cecil Maranville

Cecil Maranville is a minister of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association. He works with the responses to questions our readers send to this website.

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