I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.Ezekiel 36:26
Life in this world seems to dispense blessing with one hand and heartache with the other. In the past few weeks, we’ve enjoyed weddings and worship, family, and friends, brewing and canning in abundance—and learned of the passing of friends, the decline of others, lost children, and struggling families.
Have you ever wished you couldn’t feel each loss so keenly? The joys of life are wonderful, but at times, the temptation to not feel at all becomes so strong that you harden your heart even against the good to avoid the pain of the bad.
Hardness is not a virtue. As a physical trait, it has the peculiar tendency of making a thing seem solid and strong, while rendering the thing more brittle and fragile. (Diamonds are a rare exception, and the conditions required to create one in nature are extraordinary.) Scripture warns specifically against hardness of heart, and many people know from experience that the thicker the shell we build around our hearts, the more painful the blow and crack that finally breaks it open.
Why would a loving God create us to be battered and bloodied by the world? We are made breakable because we are meant to be healed.
I don’t remember who first pointed out to me that our bodies often heal stronger than they were before they were injured or ill—and so too our souls. The substance that knits us back together is strong, flexible, and resilient. The result is a person who still functions as he or she ought to, not solidifying and stopping, but continuing to live, love, rejoice in the good, and weather the bad.
In this way, the pain of life can help us grow as a person and love as Jesus does, through suffering and even unto death.
But in order to emerge stronger, we have to allow ourselves to heal. Often, we mistake hardening for healing. Perhaps in our own lives, perhaps in others, we’ve seen souls who wear their suffering as a badge of honor and seem to seek out more in order to prove they can take it. But a wound reopened or a bone rebroken repeatedly cannot heal—disfigurement and death are the inevitable result.
We will be broken, but we are meant to be healed. Like the hemorrhaging woman in the gospels, let us turn to the Lord in faith, knowing if we but reach out and touch His cloak, He will bring healing and salvation.
This post appeared in the Sunday, October 10, 2021, issue of the St. Michael Catholic Church bulletin.