How We Lose Our Hearts
We all face things that are just plain hard. People hurt us, circumstances seem against us at every turn, and door after door closes before us. Life doesn’t always play fair. We get bumped, bruised, and pushed aside by people navigating their journeys. Our mistakes and those of others cost us deeply.
During these seasons, a dark temptation threatens to rob us of all that is good. And if the circumstances weren’t hard enough, more is at stake than meets the eye. When people act horribly, and the situation is more than we can handle, we have the choice to do whatever it takes to feel better.
The real threat in these moments is that we could lose our hearts: our seat of hope and love. Sneaking in through the back door as we process pain are familiar but deadly attitudes such as unforgiveness, anger, jealousy, resentment, and comparison. These are temporary solutions to feel better in the moment while blinding us to the opportunity for real healing. The solutions offered to us can seem rational and even healthy.
Not me! I can hear you saying. Hang with me a minute longer. Have you ever been hurt by someone and thought, I’m on my own; people just can’t be trusted?
Or maybe a new business comes to town, maybe in the same niche as yours, and you hear yourself saying well, we will see; I’m not sure this town is big enough for the both of us.
How about the new family at church that seems to have it all together, but your heart jumps to: just wait and see, I bet they’ve got all kinds of skeletons in their closet.
The root of these thoughts is not discernment but jealousy, comparison, and suspicion. These are agreements we make from a place of pain. When someone who seems to have it all together lets us down, we are susceptible to inviting suspicion toward others. Jealousy tries to creep in as you watch another succeed easily at the endeavor that was such a struggle for us to establish and grow.
I will address the questions of Why, God, and Where were you, God, at another point. Our disappointment and questions in God can also allow poison into our souls. Any thought or belief that points us toward self-protection is dangerous to our hearts.
Building walls seems like a great way to protect ourselves from disappointment and pain. Instead, we are left isolated and suspicious while soul wounds infect and damage our hearts.
While the major, life-altering traumas in life are where these temptations are most noticeable, we are just as susceptible to partnering with these agreements one disappointment, one failed project, and one fight with our spouse at a time.
What other thoughts have come up as you have navigated difficult seasons? The results of unhealthy coping will lead us toward isolation, lying, hiding, justifying anger, jealousy, comparison, addictions, gossip, slander, and all sorts of destructive behavior. An agreement with a negative thought invites a partnership with evil and brings you into bondage, not freedom.
When offered a weapon of darkness to protect our heart, we must recognize it as a trap. The promise of an escape from pain will not lead us to freedom. Jesus does not offer an escape; he promises to walk through the pain with us until we are free and whole.
When I faced painful circumstances, big and small, I knew I could not let these thoughts and mindsets take root in my heart. Here is why partnering with such lies is so devastating: they will steal our connection to Jesus. Not all at once. Little by little, your heart leans away from Jesus and his love, and into self-protection.
These responses are so common that it’s easy to believe they are benign. They are anything but. Though common, these mindsets create malignant conditions that our hearts cannot survive. Untold damage to our souls will result if we do not address these agreements head-on. The solution? Turn towards God’s love, allowing him to heal the pain and free us from the temptation of self-protection.
Paul writes this encouragement to the church in Corinth:
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
The Greek word Paul chose for lose heart is ekkakeō. It can be defined as to lack courage, lose heart, be fainthearted, or to grow weary. Looking around our culture today, it seems too many have lost their heart and courage. Jesus encourages us to overcome this world and the strategies of evil. Instead, how often do we curl up in the latest comfort or distraction and nap?
In another letter, this time to his friends in Ephesus, Paul uses this same word:
So please don’t lose heart because of my trials here. I am suffering for you, so you should feel honored.
I notice something in both of Paul’s statements. Even though outward circumstances can eat away at us, we can be strengthened inwardly in our hearts every day. This week in my world has been an onslaught of bad news. A young man in our community has died, people are afraid and hurting over another school shooting, and I just received news that a couple we know is getting a divorce. These situations remind me that this life is not as it should be. So what do we do? We do not lose heart.
When we turn towards agreements with darkness, we miss the freedom Jesus offers us. And the promise to overcome. We cannot afford to let our hearts grow weary and lose courage when life is hard. But how?
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
We choose the way of Jesus, even when it doesn’t make sense. We are angry, hurting, and afraid, yet we don’t let that turn to rage, slander, or evil toward others.
Overcoming looks like consistent, small, seemingly unimportant decisions to choose Jesus’ way of life over our desires for justice, retribution, control, rage, or comfort. Every decision towards forgiveness, love, truthfulness, and integrity will keep your heart open and pure before Jesus. Every decision away from obedience to Jesus’ way of life hardens you just a bit more until you have closed his voice out entirely.
When we lose the courage to do what is good and right, we miss the second part of Paul’s revelation that we are renewed and brought to life inwardly.
I have seen many choose self over love and even justify it biblically, revealing how desperately hard their hearts had become. The world needs us to wake up, find our courage, and allow Jesus to breathe life into our hearts again. What if we choose Jesus over the comfort of protecting our mistakes or hiding our disobedience to Jesus’ way? Life will leave us bruised and broken. We can turn to Jesus and follow his way to freedom or choose self-protection.
Escaping into self-protection leaves us imprisoned in a contract with darkness. Hiding in the dark is not freedom. Turning on the light and facing our hearts is what brings freedom. If you are ready to shatter the darkness in your heart, the name of Jesus is the light switch. Call his name, and darkness must flee. He will walk with you and help you break every agreement you’ve made to protect yourself. He will reveal himself to you as your shield and protector in every circumstance, failure, and sadness of life.
Please do not lose your heart when life is hard and unfair. Turn toward Jesus, and let him heal you.