Changing one word of one of Springsteen’s best know songs still produces a true statement. Everyone knows what it is like to have a heavy heart. Some folks have them seldom, sometimes have them more often but we all know the way that sadness, loss, stress can produce a heavy heart.
Often a problem arises when someone with a heavy heart shares with a friend or family member who does not have a heavy heart the reality of their spiritual condition. For many of us (especially if you are a “fix-it” kind of person like me) when that happens we have one goal in mind: to bring relief. We can do this by any number of ways that look like they will help but often reveal our own ignorance of the both of our friends condition, the nature of the human heart and perhaps the greatest misunderstanding of our own heart.
It is interesting that the only verse of the Bible that mentions a heavy heart is Proverbs 25:20 and this is what God says:
Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, and like vinegar on soda.
We may try and tell a person: come on cheer up, everything will work out in the end; don’t forget, God is in control! We might even be bold enough to quote Bible verses for our heavy hearted friends: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose”. (Rom 8:28 ESV) Often when we do this it is with the best motive, love but what we often don’t realize is that it often does not help, in fact God says it is often counterproductive.
So what should we do? Well today I got a note from a friend saying she had a heavy heart. She lives at a distance so there was no way for me and Debbie to go and visit so I would her I would uphold her in prayer. In a real sense that is not “the only thing I can do” it is likely at a distance the most important. If they live close by perhaps the best we can do is to express our love in concrete ways (prepare meals, spend time, etc) and perhaps just to be willing to cry with those who mourn.
Heavy hearts are difficult things. We want to “lighten” them as quickly as possible but it has been my experience that some of the times that I learn the most of what it means to know Jesus have been those times when I have a heavy heart. I know that Jesus himself knew what it is like to have a heavy heart – “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour”(Joh 12:27 NIV) and he knew that his Father would deliver him from his heavy heart at the right time.