I don’t know if I’ve ever been accused of being the softest-hearted person in the world. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I have a hard heart (I guess you can correct me if you know better), but there are definitely times I catch myself being unnecessarily jaded, fed-up, weary or even just numb. After 21 years in law enforcement, seeing some of the worst that the world has to offer, I guess it makes sense that I might struggle with those feelings, but honestly, my experience as a pastor may have contributed to the struggle just as much.
And here’s the thing, whether you’re a pastor or police officer, teacher, medical professional, small business owner, or whatever….we all have to work at keeping our hearts soft, especially when we’re going through hard times.
I’m not telling you something you don’t know. You have a defense mechanism. It helps you handle the heartache, the pain, the disappointment, the hard things. Many of us are expert wall builders. Little by little, stone by stone, we build a wall around our hearts. Every broken relationship, every harsh word, every unpayable bill is another stone we put into that wall. And little by little, without realizing it, the wall we built to protect us from falling apart becomes the very wall that keeps us from experiencing the life we always dreamed we’d have. The soft heart that was once so excited by the possibilities of life becomes just another hard stone in the wall that we hide behind.
But have you ever met someone who’s gone through incredible hardships but somehow managed to keep their hearts soft through it all? They’ve lost a child or had some other traumatic experience and instead of a wall around them, there seems to be this incredible light and love that emanates from within. What is their secret? How do you keep your heart soft through the hard times?
It Starts With God’s Work
I love God’s promise in Ezekiel 36:26–27: “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
God is the only one who can give you a new heart. Through Jesus’ death on the cross, his blood shed for our sins, a new heart is available to all who follow him. “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life (with a new heart) has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT). If you are in need of a new, softer heart, there’s one waiting for everyone who puts their faith and trust in God.
It Continues With You
Though God is the only one who can give you a new heart, you have a lot to say about whether or not your heart stays soft. Can I give you some wisdom I’ve gained through many years of learning the hard way?
Keeping your heart soft is possible, even in the midst of hard times. It takes God’s help, a little determination and some good old fashioned hard work but as someone who’s seen both sides of that wall, I can tell you it’s definitely worth it!