Readings:  Proverbs 25:1-22  and John 19:23-42

Proverbs 25:20  Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, and like vinegar on soda.

 

“Heavy Hearts”

As the old spiritual song says, “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen, Nobody knows but Jesus.” The dingy melody would be one that could well be reflected by a heavy heart.

Today we could again sing these words.  But truly, does anyone know the troubles, or the joys, we face? We may often respond to people’s words by saying “I know how you feel!”, but do we really know how they feel? It may be the person is trying to support and encourage us, but it doesn’t usually help much.

Imagine, when you are really hurting, someone singing you a joyful song. You may give them a polite smile but what are you really feeling inside? You want the pain to go away and what the other person is doing is not helping; it might, in fact, be making it worse.

What would it have been like to be at the foot of the cross? Crucifixion was a very painful experience. Death was slow and agonizing. There may have been a few loved ones around to encourage the person hanging there or the person might have had to experience the crucifixion all alone. No one would have expected, or wanted, any singing at a site like that.

So it was, with only some of the women and His beloved disciple that Jesus hung on the cross. Yes, there were the soldiers and the other thieves there that day. But more importantly, there were the words of Scripture about the Messiah.  Jesus, even in His death, fulfills these words.

Note how, after He died (water and blood flowing from the spear wound and His legs not being broken were signs given by the soldiers that He had, indeed, died) His body is prepared for burial. There was not enough time to complete the process,that would happen after the Sabbath, the day of rest and worship for the Jewish people. But there was a reaction that would soon take place.

Solomon shares some of that with us in the closing words of the above proverb. Have you ever gone outside on an extremely cold day and stood outside without a coat? Even on a mild day it becomes rather uncomfortable very quickly. You need the garment to protect you.

And, I am sure, most of us have poured some vinegar on baking soda. The reaction is powerful enough to clear out a clogged drain! The bubbling action can bring amazement to the eyes of a young child.

So instead of singing songs to a heavy heart or telling someone you know how they feel, why do we not share with them about someone Who really does know how they feel? It may begin by just sitting by them for a while. You can listen or you can just be there. Ministry of presence is a way to show how strong you care about the other person.

While you are there tell them about Jesus. He really does know the pain they bear. He truly understands the heavy heart. It is His forgiveness that pours through the veins of the troubled to bring healing and strength. There, in His presence, the heavy heart can be lightened.

Try being in exile for a long period of time. Another country has invaded and they ask you to play your harps for them. They want to hear your joyful, worshipful music. Does the heart feel like playing? Do you really want to join in? Psalm 137 speaks of not feeling able to sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land. But we, who are foreigners in this land, need to sing the song!

We are but strangers in this land. Heaven is our home. We look forward to the day when our hearts will be fully lightened and our voices will raise in joyful song. May our hearts be lightened in Jesus.

 

PRAYER:   Father in heaven, lift up our hearts from the burdens we bear. Many are our sins but greater is Your forgiveness. Knowing the hope we have in You, as foreigners in this land, let us lift our hearts and voices to support one another and to praise You for all of eternity, through Jesus, Your Son and our Lord. Amen.

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