There it was glaring out from the computer screen. The words I never thought I would see. I had been so confident in how God had directed me. For a moment I could not breathe. “We regret to inform you that…” I couldn’t read the rest of the email. The tears suddenly gushing down my face had obscured my vision. The email shattered my dreams. My heart, that desired so badly to serve God in this particular way, crumbled into pieces.
I could not understand how this had happened. I prayed so hard. I prayed all of the right things “… God, Your will be done. God, give me a desire for the choice you want me to make, and take away all desires for the other options. God, confirm this if it is your will. God, shut the doors that I do not need to enter. God, I want this badly, but I want you more … ” He took away my desires for every option but one. He confirmed over and over again that this was what He had for me. He closed every door and window except for this one.
And then he closed this one.
What do you do when God breaks your heart?
The pain was so great that I couldn’t bear it alone. Somehow I found myself driving, brushing away tears as they clung to the edge of my sunglasses. Swallowing sobs, I tried to concentrate on driving, but my only thought was, “Oh God, what now?”
I ended up at the home of a lifelong friend. “Why,” I asked angrily, “Does God tell you something and then all of a sudden change his mind?”
“God is truth.” She said, opening her Bible. “Everything God tells you is truth. Remember, He sees things different than you do. ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD.’” (Isaiah 55:8)
Why does God break our heart?
1. Because our hearts lead us astray.
I am a planner. My father informed me at a very young age that my incessant need to make list after list in an attempt to organize my life was a “woman thing.” And while I have met some women who can just take life as it comes, I have met far more who run their lives with countless lists, calendars, planners, and agendas. We, the list-bound masses, are very goal oriented…. It is how we make it through the day. So when God gives us a future goal, we work toward that point as if our life depended on it (because we think it does). And somewhere along the way, the goal can become our god. We can become so focused on the end point that achieving that benchmark becomes our everything. And God becomes an afterthought that we occasionally ask to bless our efforts. And just like that, our hearts have led us astray. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
2. Because God is a jealous God.
Often, the goal becomes our God. We make it into an idol and organize our life in worship to it. Whether it is a relationship, career path, academic degree, status symbol, or to-do list we are determined to complete, when that goal becomes the ruling authority in our lives, it is an idol. And God is a jealous God. He wants to be number one in our hearts and lives. Because He is God, our Savior from sin, death and eternal damnation, that is His right. That goal or list may be your security blanket, but it is powerless to save you from the sentence of your own sin. God has every right to demand to be the only God in your life. “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God.” (Exodus 20:3-5)
3. Because God loves us.
In breaking our hearts, God is rescuing us from ourselves. God breaks our hearts, not to hurt us or because He enjoys our pain – no! God breaks our hearts when we have become so focused on some goal, rather than on Him. He breaks our heart because it is the only way He can save us from ourselves. He breaks our heart because it is the only way to remove a dream that is not His best for His daughter. “I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.” (Jer. 10:23) “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Prov. 16:9) “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.” (Psalm 37:23-24)
4. Because God is seeking a relationship.
So had I heard wrong? Had I misunderstood God for all these years? No…and Yes.
When I stopped crying and wallowing in self-pity, I remembered that God had set me on this path, but had not promised that I would reach the endpoint. In my itty-bitty human mind, taking a path only had one outcome….reaching the goal. But God is not bound by my small-mindedness. He set me on this path for a completely different reason. He guided me to work toward the goal, but He never promised I would achieve it, I just assumed… “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8)
Many times God may lead us down a certain path toward an unknown door. We, of course, are focused solely on the door at the end of the journey. When we reach the end, we may find that the door is locked. God did not mislead or misguide us. He did not lie. The purpose of the path was the experience with God, not the door at the end. The primary goal of every path in life is a closer and more intimate relationship with Him. I was looking at a human goal, while God was leading me toward an eternal goal – a closer relationship with Him. The entire Bible is a testimony of God’s desire and plan to re-establish a relationship between Himself and His people. “We love Him because He first loved us,” explains the apostle John (1 John 4:19). John also tells us, “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)
Then how are we supposed to plan?
Does this mean that plans are evil and we cannot make lists?
No. It means we should not structure our lives in worship of the “Almighty List.” It means never setting a goal above God in our hearts. It means we are to make plans in humility, submitting every hope, dream and earthly goal to the Lordship of Christ. We must hold the things of this earth loosely. Our only immovable goal should be God Himself. “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” (James 4:13-16)
What do you do when God breaks your heart?
When God breaks your heart….hand Him the pieces.
Because He is good and trustworthy and He will always do the best thing. God is good, and although my heart hurt for months, in time God healed me and restored my future. Even though my plans were dead, my heart rested securely in the arms of my Savior. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Prov. 3:5-6)
Looking back, I see now that God had to break my heart by removing that particular dream so that He could guide me to a far better dream, one that is more perfect and fulfilling that I could have imagined! God was acting in my best interest, even in the painful times. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.”