How Great Is God's Mercy
How carefully do you guard your heart? If we are talking about our physical heart, most of us probably don’t give it much thought from day to day. After all, our heart is safely tucked away in our chest underneath our ribs. It seems reasonably safe. For police officers or those serving in the armed forces, especially on the battlefield, they will understandably give a little more thought to this subject, of course, perhaps wearing a bulletproof vest designed to protect one’s vital organs, in particular, the heart.
But what if we’re speaking of our heart from an emotional or spiritual perspective? For instance, how careful are you in guarding your heart from being broken? I would imagine that we have all experienced a broken heart, perhaps many times. It hurts really bad! And we live in a world that is fraught with danger as it relates to our vulnerable heart. For instance, our heart breaks when we are separated from our loved ones by death. Our heart breaks when we experience betrayal from a trusted friend or family member. David understood this well when he wrote, “For it is not an enemy who taunts me—then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend” (Psalm 55:12-13).
Spiritually, our heart may break when we give in to that familiar temptation again and we feel powerless to do anything about it. Paul experienced this when he said, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. … Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:19, 24). Our heart breaks when we recognize the depth of our sin set in contrast with God’s infinite holiness! Isaiah understood this when he had a vision of the throne room of God. He cried out, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5). In this fallen world, we can be practically assured that our heart will be broken. To whom can we turn with our broken heart?
The Lord Of All Majesty Heals The Brokenhearted
In Psalm 147:3-4, the psalmist lauds two of God’s attributes in close succession. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.” He follows up his declaration of God’s great mercy with a declaration of God’s great majesty. At first glance, the two do not seem to have that much to do with each other. However, upon further reflection, there is profound significance in the fact that the One who heals my broken heart is He who numbers and names the stars, that is, the one true living God! Singer Kathy Troccoli put it this way in her song, “Help Me God” [LISTEN HERE].
In this dark hour, I know only the power That made the stars can mend my heart Oh, I've tried on my own but I'm not that strong You're all I've got, You're all I've got, help me, God.
Abram experienced this conjunction of God’s majesty and mercy as his heart broke over the apparent hopelessness that he and his wife, Sarai, would ever have a son through whom the Lord would keep His promises. In Genesis 15:3-6, we read, “And Abram said, ‘Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.’ And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: ‘This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.’ And he brought him outside and said, ‘Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.” Such a bold promise to a barren couple beyond childbearing years would be like rubbing salt in the wound had it come from anyone else. However, since the One who made the promise was He who made and numbered the stars, the Lord’s promise not only healed Abram’s broken heart but inspired his faith.
Jesus Embodied Both Mercy And Majesty
It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that the most perfect expression of God’s mercy and majesty is found in the person of Jesus Christ. For, it is written of Jesus, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1-3, 14).
It is this Jesus, God-in-the-flesh, Creator of all things, of whom it is written, “Who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8). Jesus did this to heal and bring to life our heart that was broken and dead in our sin. But Jesus didn’t stop there. He helps us as we follow Him. “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).
Trust The Lord With Your Broken Heart
Is your heart broken today? The God who numbers and names the stars, who became one of us and endured not only temptation but a broken hearts and the wrath of God for you, is ready and willing to help you. If, like Isaiah, your heart is broken by your sin, He has provided the way for forgiveness and cleansing by grace through faith in Jesus as your Savior. If, like Paul, your heart is broken and defeated by temptation, He has promised to provide a way out. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
If your heart is broken by the separation caused by the death of a loved one in the Lord, Jesus secured victory over the grave for those who place their trust in Him. “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” If, like David, your heart is broken by the betrayal of a close friend, you can trust in the Lord. “But I call to God, and the LORD will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice. … Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:16-17, 22).
No matter the circumstances of your broken heart, the Lord of perfect majesty and endless mercy can put the pieces back together again. For, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.” How great is God’s mercy indeed!