One morning in 2010, I peered into the reflection of the mirror, and I wondered who the person was staring back at me. I had been too depleted financially to get my hair done at a beauty shop and was taken by a friend to a hair design school. This is a shop where the students are learning to cut hair. They practice their training on brave individuals looking for cheaper pricing. I sat nervously in the chair as the dye was placed on my head and the foils. Soon I was ushered under the dryer, but something kept running down my neck. The hair dye had seeped through the foil. After shampooing, the stylist showed me the brown spots that had run, bled, and dried. There were large dark brown spots in my blonde hair that looked horrible. Her assistant came out, the manager, and soon a host of women were standing around my chair trying to decide what to do with the mess, and it was a mess. The manager asked if she could re-dye and cut my hair. I nodded and sat in shock as I heard her clippers begin to shave the back of my head in a boy-type haircut that left me with about an inch or two of hair on top that she spiked with gel. The color of red dye she chose for me was more of a burgundy and covered the dark brown spots. It was such a drastically different look that I still had trouble gazing into the mirror when it was time to go out in public.
Losing my hair was just an outward sign. I lost so many things I loved with such swiftness that it seemed like one blow would knock me to my knees, and before I could recover from the next one, down I would go again. The pain I felt seemed to seep out of my pores. I felt as if I were walking around with blood oozing from my heart. I kept dabbing at the seeping place of my heart, applying pressure, but to no avail. This pain was so heavy it made breathing problematic. I drove the short distance to the church assembly and made my way inside with my new fashion statements — my cane and red hair. Just trying to stand during one song was a struggle for me. Although I was better and able to drive some, I was still exhausted from chronic fatigue and other neurological issues. Losing my health was more like losing my freedom.
Everything that identified me as a person was plucked away. I began to talk to Job as if he and I were old friends. I asked, Job what did it feel like when the messenger came with the news of more pain? How did you bow and begin to worship our Lord after hearing of the death of your children, your livestock, your servants, your health? I sighed and hobbled out of the mini-van and entered the sanctuary. I tried to focus on the people around me in the pews. They smiled, clapped their hands, and sang loudly. Many had joy that I coveted. Genuine joy. I am sure they all had a story of their own sorrow and losses. It seemed many I encountered did.
The pastor’s message was well needed, and many scriptures he quoted seem to speak to me, encourage me even. He was gifted in the prophetic and humble, and I knew I was where I was supposed to be going then. I had just started driving this short distance to fellowship with other believers a few months prior, but sitting alone on the pew was just a reminder that everything in my life had become empty.
I knew the Lord had taken the desire from my eyes in more ways than one when he took my husband, the man I had shared my life with. The Lord was in control, but the pain was unbearable some days. I missed people. I missed my pets, stepdaughter, job, life as I knew it, and, yes, a man who left me. My children were living on their own or with others due to my situation. I could not help but wonder how the Father could take my life and make anything out of it again. It seemed hopeless. I was too sick to start over and too empty. I did not know then that God loved empty vessels that He could fill. Elijah said to the empty widow, “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few” (II Kings 4:2, ESV). The widow borrowed, and the oil poured forth and filled them all. Possibly, I needed to become empty so He could pour in His oil and His Spirit and do something new in my life.
The service was coming to a close, and soon the minister asked if there was anyone who needed healing in their body. He quoted a verse from the book of James.
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up.
–James 5:14-25, ESV
I stood there on wobbly legs, my cane in hand, but did not budge from my seat. I watched as many made their way down to the altar. I listened as the minister placed his hands on the heads of the many and began to pray for each one. My heart hurt. At that moment, I began to notice the seeping of sorrow and the constant throbbing that seemed to take my very breath. My heart felt like a sieve that blood was pouring out of. Help. I began to scream inside my soul, pleading even, “Oh Lord, I am sick in my body, this is true, but my heart is broken in a million pieces. Please heal my heart. Lord, can you take this grief away? It is more than I can endure.” I began to cry and ask Him over and over until something profound happened. Something so incredibly intimate it brought tears that poured down my face like constant rain. Suddenly the minister raised the microphone to his lips and said, “I need everyone to stop for a minute. I need your attention. The Lord is telling me that there is a person here who has a broken heart, and I can see it. It’s battered, shredded, and bruised. Where are you?” He began to look over the congregation, and I raised my hand–my small insignificant hand. He said, people, I want you all to lay hands on our sister as we pray for the Father to heal her heart. In that precious moment, I suddenly didn’t care about my heart. I was so in awe that the Father of glory heard me and that He loved me enough to speak to His minister that I was awestruck. The Lord loved me enough to stop praying over people with physical ailments to envelop me and let me know He knew. He saw. He wanted to take His Son’s nail-scarred hands and hold my gaping places, pat the blood that had oozed out and cover it with His healing blood. Oh, I needed a Savior in more ways than one and one that was intricate and detailed. The Father spoke in a whisper that blew across my heart and held it to His. Oh, what a glorious Savior we serve, and He does not show partiality. “Then Peter began to speak: “I now truly understand that God does not show favoritism” (Acts 10:34, BSB).
If you need healing from a broken heart, the Father wants to minister to you today. He sees your tears. He desires for you to be made whole spiritually, physically, and mentally. Raise your hands to the heavens and picture His loving arms enveloping you. “He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3, NASB).
If you enjoyed this free chapter of Jumping for Joy in the Midst of Sorrow, you might like the book. You can purchase it here: Jumping for Joy.