The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
My wife and I were driving to church this morning, when there he was: a little brown teddy bear with a red bow lying face down on the shoulder of the interstate. Both of us agreed there must be a story behind this seemingly lost friend, one that involves a heartbroken little person.
Isn’t it interesting how we develop emotional attachments to objects like stuffed animals? Somehow, they generate security and help us self-soothe.
Until I was about 4 years old, my “teddy bear” was a small crocheted blanket the family aptly named, “Nasty.” I’m told (I don’t remember any of this), I refused to let go of Nasty long enough for him to be washed. And when my mother occasionally did coax my little comforter from my grasp–for a much needed bath–I stood in the utility room and cried the WHOLE time.
I still have Nasty. He is safe in a trunk with several other family heirlooms. Yet other adult appropriate security blankets have taken his place. A special co-worker, a much loved family member or mentor, or even a favorite chair, I’m sure you can relate.
Alright, I’ll get to the point.
Psalm 34:18 says that God is CLOSE to the broken hearted; He doesn’t keep driving when our Teddy Bears go out the window. He also helps those who are crushed in spirit; He sent an angel to comfort Jesus when he collapsed at the cusp of His own crucifixion (Luke 22:40-46).
And He will do the same for you and me. Guaranteed.
Check out the very next verse of Psalm 34!
A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all;
“I will be glad and rejoice in Your love, for You saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.” Psalm 30:7
It was raining steadily as dozens of cars crept through the student drop-off line at my school. Some students prepared for the weather, wearing rubber boots and carrying umbrellas, but others did not. One little girl, in particular, was reluctant to get out of the car in just her tee-shirt and shorts. From the school doorway, I could see her and dad going back and forth. Finally, I saw him say, “Get OUT of the CAR!”
The dejected youngster exited slowly and began to make her way down the stairs to the building below–head down and arms folded. By the time she reached the door, she was soaked, her clothes polka-dotted with rain. I said, “Good morning, young lady!” But it was too late; she promptly burst into tears.
Several children waiting to go into the building noticed the commotion. Turning to look in unison, they seemed about to take a step back. But then, the most amazing thing happened. One child stepped forward, and then another, and another. The drenched and distraught 2nd grader and I were soon surrounded by smiling students, one of whom exclaimed, “Group Hug!” Quickly, everyone encircled the two of us in a tight ball, frozen in place for a good five seconds.
When everyone let go, a miracle had occurred! The sopping wet youngster was no longer sobbing. She dabbed her eyes with a tissue, offered by another student, and chose to face the day.
As a Christian, it is comforting to believe God knows the troubles of my soul and sees the pouring “rain” on this life’s journey. He is a God of love who helps us love one another. A group of children and a little wet friend just reminded me of this.
Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:13-14
My wife and I used to teach Sunday School at a shelter for abused, neglected, or abandoned children. One particular morning we encountered a sparkly eyed five-year old with a perpetual grin. When we started the Bible story, about Jesus and the little children, she seemed particularly attentive. So I asked her, “Have you heard about Jesus?” She said no. Still sensing a connection, I gently probed, “Have you heard about God?” “Oh, I know God,” she said. “We take naps together!”
I said something like, “Oh, you do?!” and then continued with the story. But the rest of the day I tried to wrap my mind around what this sweet little girl said about God–“We take naps together!” I pictured a home, chaotic and out of control; a prison where a frightened little girl hid in her room to escape the negligent adults who were supposed to be her caregivers. She’s hiding in the closet (or maybe under the bed) sobbing uncontrollably, but then God Himself comes and comforts her until she falls asleep. And THIS is what she calls “taking naps with God.”
The miracle of God’s little slumber party friend was still on my heart when I said my prayers that evening. I started by thanking Him for looking out for her and for letting me in on the secret. But then, I just couldn’t hold it: