Letting God Break Our Hearts

Ann Spangler
Ann Spangler
2018 1 Nov

An image of broken glass.

I have a confession to make. I can only remember a few times when I was a victim of injustice. Each time someone tried to cheat me out of something that belonged to me. I felt so angry that I wanted to fight back with all the power I could muster. And I did.

But what about people who suffer from injustice on a daily basis? Perhaps they have had the bad luck of being born into poverty or maybe their skin is a few shades too dark or perhaps they have a disability or a mental illness that makes them easy targets for con men. They may be children who are being terrorized by adults who should protect them. In such cases, their lives may be just one long struggle against evils they haven’t the power to overcome. What about them?

I think I should care more about those people than I do about my privileged self—but I don’t, at least not yet.

Fortunately, you would never have said that about Bob Pierce, the man who founded World Vision and Samaritans Purse, two Christian relief and development organizations. Here is the now-famous prayer Pierce wrote in the flyleaf of his Bible after visiting suffering children in Korea:

"Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God."

Tim Stafford describes Pierce:

“In 1959, journalist Richard Gehman wrote that ‘[Pierce] cannot conceal his true emotions. He seems to me to be one of the few naturally, uncontrollably honest men I have ever met.’ When asked by Franklin Graham how to ‘shake people out of their complacency,’ Pierce said he had ‘become a part of the suffering. I literally felt the child's blindness, the mother's grief. … It was all too real to me when I stood before an audience. … It's not something that can be faked.’ Pastor Richard Halvorsen wrote that Pierce ‘prayed more earnestly and importunely than anyone else I have ever known. It was as though prayer burned within him. … Bob Pierce functioned from a broken heart.’”1

Though Bob Pierce had his share of personal challenges, it seems to me he lived out the beatitude that says: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled (Matthew 5:6 NIV). Perhaps you and I need to let God break our own hearts with the things that break his.

  1. Tim Stafford, “Imperfect Instrument: World Vision's founder led a tragic and inspiring life,” Christianity Today, posted February 25, 2005 at http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/march/19.56.html