Serving in ministry I have had a front row seat to watch as people from all backgrounds and stations in life have dealt with the hurt and brokenness that is so often a part of living.  I have watched as family relationships were broken, loved ones were lost to illness, violence or bad decisions, or a change in economic situation caused a bright future to dim.  The conversations that follow these events are never easy.  While I do my best to point those who are in the middle of them to Christ, I know that there are going to be difficult days ahead filled with pain and frustration that will seemingly never end.

Often I am asked a question that is impossible to answer.

“When will the pain go away?”

I understand this question because it is one that I have asked many times. It is, however, a question that cannot be answered. When real hurt occurs, it will NEVER completely go away.  We can move on and rebuild but we can never fully remove the pain.

This is something that I have often struggled with.  I have struggled as I have tried to help others and I have struggled personally as I have worked to remove my own hurts.  As I grow in this area though and see the way that God works through pain, I have come to conclude that a broken heart, pain caused by a severe change in relationship or situation, when handled correctly, can be a great blessing.

Please do not misunderstand what I am saying here.  I am in no way trying to diminish the severe trials that must be endured and I would never suggest to anyone in the middle of a painful season of life that they will one day be thankful for it.  I would submit, however, that by God’s grace the pain and tragedy of life can equip us to more fully serve Him and be a blessing to others.

What are some ways that a broken heart can be a blessing?

1. We have a built in reminder of our dependence on God and need for His grace. It is amazing how little we feel we need God until a major life situation takes place.  Remembering these events and feeling again the pain that came with them serves to remind us of just how much we need Him.

2. We have a built in reminder of how much God loves us. The pain of what has happened serves to remind us of a great God that will always love us and care for us through the tragedy.

3. We develop sensitivity for the burdens and trials of others. When people are struggling in areas that I have been hurt, the pain that I may have thought was gone always comes back.  The beauty in that pain is that I can more fully minister to those who are struggling right now.  Knowing how bad it hurts helps us to ease the pain of others.

4. We better understand how to keep others away from painful decisions. So much of the pain and hurt that we experience is nothing more than the natural consequence of our decisions.  When we know how much pain the decisions can cause, we are better equipped to keep others from traveling down the same painful road.

5. We more fully appreciate the blessings in our life. So often we take for granted the many blessings in our life. If all we have ever known is financial abundance, relational success and peace, then we begin to count these things as normal. We do not truly appreciate the people or security in our lives until we know the pain of losing them.

6. We begin living for a purpose bigger than ourselves. Perhaps the greatest blessing of a broken heart is the sense of purpose that it brings to our lives.  When we learn firsthand just how fragile life is we develop a motivation to make the most of the moments that we have.  Those who have contributed the most in life are those who have experienced the greatest pain.

We should never be defined by the brokenness that has come into our lives or allow the pain caused by those events to be wasted.  Let’s determine that the hurt that remain long after the event has ended will remind us of God’s great love and equip us to share that love with others.

Let’s be thankful for the blessing of a broken heart.

Jeremy Stalnecker is the Executive Director of the Mighty Oaks Foundation which is dedicated to helping America’s military warriors and their families who are suffering from the unseen wounds of combat. While growing up Jeremy’s only goal was to leave home and join the Marine Corps. This dream was finally realized with an active duty commission in 1999 which opened the door to serve as a Marine Infantry Officer during the opening days of the war in Iraq. One month after returning from Iraq, Jeremy entered full-time ministry and eventually accepted a senior pastor role. He later accepted a full-time position with the Mighty Oaks Foundation which brought together his ministry and military experience in a way that allows him to minister to hurting veterans, service members and their families. Along with his wife and their four children, Jeremy works to reach the hurting and provide healing found in Christ.

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