Have you ever heard of Takotsubo Syndrome? Better known as broken heart syndrome, Takotsubo Syndrome is on the rise in America. This syndrome can mirror a heart attack, causing chest pains and shortness of breath after the heart muscles weaken.  “It generally happens after a severe emotional or physical event, such as a breakup, car accident or even a surprise birthday party,” according to Dr. Susan Cheng, who led a study published by the Journal of the American Heart Association.  

Studies have shown a clear connection in how the heart and the brain react together when things like anxiety or stress are present. According to the Mayo Clinic, broken heart syndrome is often preceded by an intense physical or emotional event.  More Americans are living with broken hearts and the painful feeling now comes with a severe diagnosis.  The Covid pandemic, political unrest and increased social isolation due to technology have only increased the health impacts that Americans are experiencing. 

Men, do any of you have a broken heart due to shame, failure, disappointment, etc.?   The Lord is aware of our broken hearts and can bring healing. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Ps 34:18).   “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds (Ps. 147:3).  The NET says, “[He] bandages their wounds.”  Only God can bind up the wounds of a broken heart.  Isaiah prophesied about Jesus when he wrote, “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners…” (Is. 61:1).  

The prophet Hosea lamented the spiritual adultery among the people of God.  He continually reminded them of God’s tender, caring love for them.  Speaking of Ephraim, God relayed through Hosea: “Still, I stuck with him. I led Ephraim. I rescued him from human bondage, but he never acknowledged my help, never admitted that I was the one pulling his wagon, that I lifted him, like a baby, to my cheek.” (Hosea 11:3-4 Message).  Phillips says, “Yet they never knew that it was I who healed their bruises (v. 3b).   Can you picture Jesus, leaning over and kissing you on the cheek, healing your bruises and pulling your wagon loaded with burdens?

Henri Nouwen continually emphasized that the heart is the center of our lives. “But,” he says, “it’s also there that we are most alienated from ourselves. We know little or nothing of our heart.  We keep our distance from it, as though we were afraid of it. What is more intimate is also what frightens us most. Where we are most ourselves, we are often strangers to ourselves.” We are, he observes, “strangers in our own house.” 

As men we can live as strangers in our own houses, living with broken hearts. We do our best to cover up the ache inside.  But like a tooth ache; it just does not go away. We are uncomfortable when we become aware of the intensity of the pain.  Years ago, I learned an important principle from the poet Robert Bly.  He said, “The way to a man’s heart is through his pain.” We must go through the pain, not around it.” 

Our hearts are very fragile.  We might not think this is the case. We can put on a good front and pretend.  But the truth is that we cannot mend a broken heart.  Only the redeeming love of God can reach down and begin to put all the pieces back together. Trust me, it is a lifelong process. Don’t waste another day, trying to self-medicate your pain or patch up the wounds with excuses.