Heavy Hearts

The normal heart is about the size of a clenched fist and weighs 300 to 350 grams, less than 1 pound.  When you consider your overall weight, it is small in size.  Yet, when it comes to importance, the human heart is essential.  The human heart begins to beat in the fetus at 3 to 4 weeks.  When you consider that it then beats for the rest of human life, it is an incredible organ.

Beyond its physical importance, we use heart metaphorically in many ways.  The end of a relationship may bring a broken heart.  A sports competitor is described as playing with all their heart.  If we are not excited about something, we might say our heart is just not into it.  Or if we are overburdened by something in life, we might confess that our heart is heavy.  We might sometimes concur with the great German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “My peace is gone, my heart is heavy. ”

In Proverbs 12: 25, we read, “Anxiety weighs down the heart.”  The writer of Proverbs recognized that sometimes we have heavy hearts.  It is impossible to live in the world and not have a heavy heart at times.  When problems grow great, worry settles in, and uncertainty fills the future, we can quickly feel like our hearts are sinking.  We often use the idiom to describe such a situation by saying, “my heart sank.”

In the Gospel of John, Jesus sat around a table with his worried followers.  Jesus could tell that their hearts were sinking.  It was the night before Jesus’ death, and their lives seemed to be unraveling.  The heaviness of the hour was thick in the air, and it filled their hearts with a sense of despair.  Realizing this, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) Jesus’ remedy for a heavy heart is his peace.  Peace, which the apostle Paul said, “passes all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7) Our hearts need not be overwhelmed by trouble when we allow God’s peace to guard them.  God gives us peace that can hold us steady and strong, even when our hearts seem to be failing us.  God’s peace will not fail us.  We will always face difficulties and challenges living in a broken world, but we can trust that God’s peace is stronger and can lift the heaviest of hearts.

Although we might look to other things and peoples to find our peace, these will always be inadequate. While they may offer short term peace to a heavy heart, true peace of heart can only come from God.  C.S. Lewis once said, “God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”  May we trust in the peace that passes all understanding.  May we anchor our anxious hearts to the presence of Christ Jesus, and may we live in the hope that can lift our heavy hearts.

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Published by Dr. Philip W. Turner

Since 1991 I have had the joy of serving as Pastor of Pine Street Baptist Church in the community of Oregon Hill in Richmond, Virginia. The people I have met a long the way have inspired me in my daily ministry. I have truly been blessed.

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