I’ve never looked forward to a broken heart. Have you? Psalm 34:18 says “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit.” If we saw our broken hearts, our trials, our tears as an opportunity for His nearness, would we view our trials differently? Would an opportunity to be near HIM in a different way change how we function in that trial? I’d venture to say that when we witness the nearness of God when we are hurting, it changes everything.
A Mother’s Heart
It changes everything, especially as a mother. If you are a mother, chances are your heart has broken. It probably started the moment your son or daughter was born and you realized this “love” they talk about regarding a child is something that cannot be described; only experienced. I think from that moment on, our hearts break on different levels as we guide, direct, and ‘mother’ our kids through this life. The scraped knees morph into broken hearts over relationships, misunderstandings, not making a team, or even bigger losses. The tears over a ‘boo-boo’ somehow become harder to wipe away when it involves their hearts. As moms, we cry out to the Lord on behalf of our children. Whether it be a friendship gone awry, issues with mental health, a diagnosis, a decision or string of decisions that you know is only leading down a dangerous path – The difficulty of toddlerhood somehow pales in comparison to the raising of future adults.
In my 17 years of motherhood, I feel like I’ve had two choices:
One – Believe that God is just a bystander in my life and the life of my kids and He steps in only when necessary.
Two – Believe that God is actively involved in every heartache, every loss, every surprising turn and He desires to be near in very tangible ways.
I believe He desperately wants to give us ‘good gifts’ as we walk through this life as parents and as individuals. The pain that we experience as we watch our kids find their way is an invitation to see the tangible hand of God at every turn and be near Him. It only requires one thing: That we ask.
“Ask? But I ask all the time,” you may be thinking. You pray, believe, and know that God is faithful. He is good like all the Bible stories say He is. In your own life, you know He is there, but out of fear of disappointment we may not ‘ask’ for specifics. I believe God does not want us passively waiting for Him to show up; He wants us LOOKING, asking, pleading. We can ask boldly and wait in expectation for the God who wants desperately to give good gifts to those who ask (Matthew 7:11). Especially, when our hearts are broken.
A Beet Salad
I remember the moment. We had just received news of a life altering diagnosis for our oldest son. At the time, it completely derailed all his hopes and dreams and quite literally put him on the sideline for the foreseeable future. Because the diagnosis is genetic, it reframed our whole family. We felt like we were being suffocated. All that we knew had just been taken in a moment. I remember hearing of God’s tangible goodness in people’s life when walking through trials, but had never experienced it myself. The kind of undeniable, “Wow” moments that could only be described by a good God who orchestrates every detail. When we say “He is good.” What is our proof? So I decided to ask. I decided to ask for a tangible ‘gift’ not knowing if it would be in the form of a miracle in his health situation, a person on the street, or a shadow on the sidewalk that communicated something specific to me.
I had specifically asked the Lord to show up in our brokenness that day. I said, “Lord, I need a gift to know you are near.” My husband and I met at a local restaurant to decompress and process after the trauma of the few days before. Not a minute later, a server came by and said, “Here is a beet salad. It is extra. It is a GIFT. Would you like it?” I looked at my husband and said, “Did you hear her? She said it’s a gift. It’s from the Lord!” I think the Lord’s sense of humor was coming through when he gave me the beet salad and the server said, “It is a gift.” I think He was saying, “You want a gift, I’m going to give it to you.” I like beet salads, sure, but as a gift from the Lord? One could say that would be questionable. It didn’t matter what anyone thought, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that God was meeting me in that moment in a big way. It was quite literally an opportunity to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8)! We laughed at the way God showed up that day but that simple moment was a catalyst to viewing God’s faithfulness actively in our lives rather than passively. I now refer to all the ways God shows up for me as my “beet salads.”
The Wonder and Awe of His Nearness
The next few months were filled with doctor visits, tests, hospitals and all the things you don’t want to be doing with your child. I filled a journal with the big and little ways God showed up for us during that time and as my eyes shifted to the beauty of my God who loves us, the trial was filtered through a new lens of awe and wonder of God in the midst of our broken hearts. Our son’s diagnosis was not the end of trial in our lives. We’ve had countless opportunities to trust Him to be near in the years that have followed. What is different is when the waves come, we ask and expect Him to calm the storm with his nearness.
Author Priscilla Shirer once shared, “Those who don’t expect to see God, won’t.” We have to change our vantage point to see God’s fingerprints on what we are walking through. When we shift our focus from the pain to the God who wants to do abundantly more than we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20), the trials we are walking through with our children or in our own lives become an opportunity to see God in exciting, awe-inspiring ways. Our trials become an opportunity to shout His glory from the rooftops because of how He has showed up. Job 5:9 tells us that God “performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.” Our trials become our worship because we serve a God who always comes through when we ask. It may not be how we expect. It might even be through a beet salad, but however He speaks to you, it will be with wonder. Being near to God in His wonder, might just make that broken heart a miracle over a burden.
Scripture to Ponder
Psalm 34:3 – “Proclaim the Lord’s greatness with me; let us exalt his name together.”
Psalm 34:8 – “Taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the person who takes refuge in him.”
Psalm 34:18 – “The Lord is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit.”
Psalm 33:20-22 – “We wait for the Lord; he is our help and shield. For our hearts rejoice in him because we trust in his holy name. May your faithful love rest on us, Lord, for we put our hope in you.”
About the Author – Julie Delamarter grew up in Southern California, met her husband who is from Pendleton, Oregon in college, moved to the PNW, and never looked back! She has been married for almost 20 years and has three amazing kids. She is a behavior therapist for kids with autism by day and a carpool driver by night! Some of her favorite things include country music, lots of sun, food, friends, and adventure. Passionate about many things including youth, the special needs community, and mental health. God has shown Himself real to her and she prays He will use her however He sees fit!