A Broken Heart

Speaker: Dr. Harold J. Sala | Series: Guidelines For Living | For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. Matthew 15:19

For many years Dr. Stewart Wolf served as professor of medicine and psychiatry at the School of Medicine at the University of Oklahoma. Among his many achievements, Dr. Wolf is noted as one of the first to relate emotional stress and worry to heart trouble. Says Dr. Wolf, “The heart is probably the most vulnerable, judging by statistics on heart death. But every part of the body can suffer from disturbing emotions.”

Dr. William Menninger estimated that half the patients consulting doctors suffer from ailments caused by or closely related to disturbing emotions. Another leading psychiatrist, Dr. Van Buren O. Hammett, of Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital, offers this explanation: “Let’s imagine there is some problem involving your job or your family that keeps you in a state of anxiety. Every time something happens to remind you of the problem, the feeling of fear or anger returns and your body reacts accordingly with all the various bodily changes.”

Doctors refer to illnesses that stem from emotional problems as psychosomatic. The word comes from two Greek words, “psycho” from the Greek psucha, which means soul, and the rest of the word, “somatic,” from the Greek soma, which means body–thus relating the body and the soul. To say that something is psychosomatic does not mean that the illness is not real: it just pinpoints the actual cause, emotional conflict that comes out of the heart and soul.

There is a very close relationship between the heart and the soul. The heart controls physical life while the soul controls emotional and spiritual life. The Bible says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7 NKJV). Jesus Christ identified the heart as the seat of action. He said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:19).

Almost everything you do begins as a thought. As I have done, talk to the men who fill the prisons and ask them how they happened to commit the crime for which they are jailed. They will usually tell you, “I don’t know….” As you begin to probe deeper into their thinking, you will discover that in most cases the thought was in their minds, and then eventually came to the surface. At the moment, they may have been surprised at their actions, but the thought had been there for a long, long time.

At times, it seems that it is more than we can do to control our hearts and thoughts. Why would any person allow his emotions and thoughts to put him flat on his back in the hospital, or in the penitentiary, if he could control his heart? God diagnosed the subtleties of the heart when He said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9 KJV). You may think, “I can control myself.” Maybe so, but there are two facts that cannot be ignored. First, God is in the business of changing‑‑no, replacing–hearts. “I will give you a new heart” (Ezekiel 36:26) is God’s promise to the man who realizes the need for God’s help. David cried, “Create in me a clean heart, O God” (Psalm 51:10 KJV). That He will do.

Second, with God’s help you can control your thinking‑‑and thus control your heart. Paul said we are to bring every thought into captivity to Jesus Christ. When your emotions begin to get away from you‑‑stop dead in your tracks and say, “Lord, I need your help.” Then, ask Him to take control of your emotions, and you will discover the battle is not to the strong or the swift, but to the man who has taken Christ as his Savior.   Resource reading: Ezekiel 36.