God Is Near - The Crosswalk Devotional - July 29
God Is Near
By Jessica Van Roekel
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18 NIV).
Broken hearts are one of the heavier burdens we carry. Unanswered prayers, unfulfilled longings, and unmet expectations can lead our hearts to brokenness. Elijah, an Old Testament prophet, knew brokenheartedness too. His people, the Israelites, continually turned away from God and they rejected his message to return. How his heart must of broke for them.
God revealed himself to his people over and over again and for a time, they served him, but then fell back into idol worship. This led to the famous encounter on Mount Carmel between the prophets of Baal and the lone prophet of God. Fire fell from heaven and consumed the drenched altar, the wood, the stones, and licked up the water that remained in the trench. The people rose up and proclaimed, “The Lord is God,” and killed the prophets of Baal. Once Jezebel heard this news, she vowed to kill Elijah. And Elijah ran away. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it, and prayed that he might die. He had had enough.
Elijah struggled with broken heartedness. And if he can struggle with it, then it shouldn’t surprise us when we struggle with it too. Living for the Lord and seeking to be obedient to him carries with it its own set of difficulties. We wrestle against our old nature that rises to demand its own way, whether it’s through wanting recognition for a job well done or revenge against those who stand against us. We grow weary and declare that we’re done. We have had enough.
There are times when God doesn’t feel near. He feels far off and we wonder where he went. This happened to Elijah too. Imagine standing alone against an entire group of Baal prophets and a people who toggled between serving the Lord and serving idols. Visibly you are outnumbered except you have God—the Everlasting God who has no beginning and no end—on your side. To the human eye, victory looks impossible, but God fights for you and makes victory possible. Elijah didn’t do anything except obey the Lord. And God won the victory. But then Elijah got scared and ran away.
But in the wilderness, God came near. Under that broom tree, God provided sustenance and rest for Elijah’s refreshment. When we’re under duress of heart, we need to take time to satisfy our needs for refreshment too. Our broken hearts can cause us to throw up our hands in defeat and run away, and when we do, Jesus meets us in that moment, ready to remind us that victory is found in him and that he gives us the courage to stand and face the giants once again. Jesus is our bread and living water and his yoke is easy. When we turn toward him instead of away, we find that he satisfies the weariness in our heart. When we state that we have had enough, Jesus becomes enough for us. We can taste and see that the Lord is good, and he is everything we need.
Elijah left his broom tree of despair and traveled deeper into the wilderness to Mount Horeb, the mountain of God. Again, God met him there and asked him, “What are you doing here?” It is here that Elijah finally gives words to his broken heart. He says, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me” (1 Kings 18:10 NIV). And the Lord drew near. The wind came and shattered rocks, but the Lord was not in the wind. Then the earth shook and fire fell, but the Lord was not in either. Instead, the Lord arrived in a gentle whisper.
It is in gentleness that the Lord draws near. A broken heart doesn’t need more devastation like windstorms, earthquakes, or fire. It needs tenderness, and that’s what the Lord brings to us when our hearts are broken. He is gentle with our heart. He draws near. Will we come out of our caves of brokenness long enough to see his gentle ways with our hearts?
Intersecting Faith and Life:
You may be feeling crushed by the weight of a broken heart. You might even say like Elijah, “I have had enough.” But let me encourage you to be still and let God draw near. He longs to refresh you physically with rest and sustenance. Jesus longs to be your bread and living water. Run to him. Pour out your broken heart to him. Ugly cry if you need to. He’s near, waiting to receive you with open arms. Take time today to walk into them.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/RunPhoto
Jessica Van Roekel loves the upside-down life of following Jesus as she journeys to wholeness through brokenness. As an author, speaker, and worship leader, she uses her gifts and experiences to share God’s transformative power to rescue, restore, and renew. She longs for you to know that rejection doesn’t have to define or determine your future when placed in God’s healing hands. Find out more reframingrejectionbook.
Want to grow your prayer life? The So Much More Podcast shows you how to create space to be with God. This podcast, hosted by Jodie Niznik, introduces you to two types of scripture experiences: Lectio Divina and Imaginative Prayer. Join our growing prayer community today!