“A broken heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)
It’s not often you see career police officers cry in public. But that’s what happened when four Capitol Police officers described their experience during the Trump-inspired insurrection on January 6. If you haven’t seen it, you need to watch it here.
The integrity, commitment, and sheer humanity of these officers combined with video coverage of the attack, took us directly into the violence, destruction, and pain of the insurrection that intended to undermine our democratic process.
Whatever your political persuasion, if you can watch and listen without feeling something of their pain and perhaps sharing some of their tears, I honestly question both your compassion and your patriotism.
Thinking back on their witness, I remembered David’s prayer when he was at the lowest point in his life, “A broken heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)
David’s prayer came after Nathan confronted him with the truth about the sordid way he had used his self-absored power to rape Bathsheba and kill her husband, Uriah. (2 Samuel 11-12) Looking face to face into the mirror of his sin shattered his arrogance and pride. (Psalm 51)
It was enough to break a king’s heart, and that’s exactly what it did.
Breaking the Heart of God
It’s not often that we see Jesus cry in public. But that’s what happened when he looked out over Jerusalem. “As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.‘” (Luke 19:41-43)
We can live in denial (or delusion)about the truth as long as it is “hidden from our eyes.” But Jesus saw things all too clearly and what he saw was enough to break his heart.
One of my friends prays, “Break my heart with the things that break your heart, O God.” When I am willing to pray that prayer, there is more than enough brokenness in our world to break the heart of God.
In this case, the hearts of experience-tempered police officers were broken because of the racism, hostility, and risk of death they endured from people who were driven by a cultish commitment to the former President who continues to encourage his delusions about the election and who, they believed, “called” them to the Capitol.
It’s enough to break a democracy-loving person’s heart.
How to Mend a Broken Heart
I doubt the Bee Gees realized that they were echoing David’s prayer when they sang:
And how can you mend a broken heart?
How can you stop the rain from falling down?
How can you mend this broken man?
How can a loser ever win?
Please help me mend my broken heart and let me live again.
David answered their question in Psalm 51. The mending begins by facing the truth we try to hide. It includes acknowledging our denial of the truth. It moves to repentance, literally, turning in a new direction. And it experiences the heart-cleansing mercy and grace of the heart-mending Spirit of God.
And that’s the way to mend every broken heart.
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:17-18)
Grace and peace,