In life there are many situations which can take place around us which have the affect of breaking our heart. Whether relational stresses, disillusionment with unfulfilled promises, or discouragement through the trials of life, our hearts can be made vulnerable. In Acts 21 the Apostle Paul is about to go to Jerusalem, even though he has been told that his arrival there would mean that he would be tied up and delivered to gentile authorities. The future is not positive for Paul so the people gather around him, weeping and begging him not to go. It is in this context that Paul responded saying, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Vs. 13).
In these verses having a broken heart was more than a pain in the chest. It was more than a broken relationship, the phrase “broken heart” conveys the thought of:
- to deprive of strength and courage,
- to dispirit,
- to incapacitate for enduring trials
- to be weakening in determination so as to prevent going on with one’s duty.
Paul was sensing that his resolve to move forward was languishing. The emotions and efforts of others were not encouraging him, instead they were causing him to focus on the same aspects of fear which were gripping the hearts of his friends. He was becoming undermined in his resolve to move forward. How did Paul cope in this situation, what gave him the strength to press onward?
In the face of what would normally dishearten and discourage, Paul focused on a cause, a purpose, that was greater than the looming fear of possible struggles. “I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus”. Paul saw that the name of Jesus, the promotion of the good news of Jesus, was greater than any suffering or struggles which he might go through. Paul was not about to get caught up with the personal challenges of his life in such a way that the Kingdom of Jesus suffered.
Many of us may have “broken heart” experiences. Yet our broken hearts can be healed as we set our focus on fulfilling the greatest goal in life, that of helping many to embrace the name and power of Jesus. Take some time to ponder how you might better proclaim the name of Jesus to others.