Forty Days Revisited, Day 19–How Can You Mend?

How can you mend a broken heart?

How did Jesus do it? Day in and day out he was, at any given time, surrounded by misery, suffering, grief, despair, pain. How did he deal with that on a regular basis. You know the bible says at least one time that “Jesus wept” (John 11:35), but how did he not weep all the time? How did he walk through  all the sadness, pain, and grief of the people around him and not be sobbing.

I suppose I’m projecting here, because while I might walk around and help and heal and touch people to ease their pain, I’d be balling the entire time, tears streaming down my cheeks as I moved from person to person, problem to problem, heartache to heartache. And at the end of a day or week of doing that, I would have to retreat to “a quiet place” not only to rest and to recover from the physical exhaustion, but also the emotional and mental strain of helping people in distress.

The other day I was talking with a close friend who is going through a difficult divorce. Divorce—the dissolution of a relationship—is hard enough, but even worse when there are children involved. As I listened (which is all I really could do), I could almost feel their pain in my own body, so real and raw it was to them. I found I had few words, other than murmurings of comfort and commiseration, and that horrible, helpless feeling that there was actually very little I could do other than provide the proverbial shoulder to cry on.

Jesus spent a lot of time healing the sick, and easing the pain—physical, mental, and spiritual—of the people around him. I wonder if it was his divinity that gave him the ability to both be compassionate in tending to them, while also remaining detached enough to be able to function. But then I think, no, it wasn’t his divinity that enabled him to do that, it was his humanity. I realize that every day there are people—healers—who do the same thing Jesus did: they ease people’s illnesse, physical and mental, touch people, care for them with deep compassion. They are nurses, physicians, psychologists and social workers, special education teachers, and others who  stand proxy for Jesus, doing pretty much as he did. Those like me who have no such skills marvel at their ability to save and heal lives, while not breaking down themselves.

Throughout these 40 days I know I’ll be thinking a lot about suffering and how to connect with those who are suffering without being consumed or overwhelmed by it. Jesus didn’t appear to get overwhelmed, so I can try not to be. As I check back in with my friend in the days ahead, I will offer love and support to salve their broken heart. It’s going to be a while, but it will mend. I have it from my own experience and on good authority. All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. And so it goes.

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