We all know it hurts to have your heart broken. And now they finally have the scientific data to back it up. Recent research from the University of California, Los Angeles, indicates that emotional pain may be more closely linked to physical pain than scientists previously realized. According to Naomi Eisenberger, lead author of the study, the distress from rejection registers in the same part of the brain that responds to physical pain, triggering similar sensations to, say, a broken arm. Which is just affirmation of what we've known all along: heartbreak hurts.
If you've had any prolonged exposure to other human beings, chances are pretty good that somewhere along the way you've had your heart broken. If not, hang on—you will soon enough. Maybe someone who promised to stick with you left with little warning. Maybe a close friend betrayed your trust or let you down when you needed her most. Or maybe you have that awful feeling in your gut that the person you love just doesn't love you back. When our hearts are broken, we limp along, wondering how we ended up here and if we'll ever make it to the other side of the pain. And perhaps worst of all, we feel utterly and helplessly alone.
But what I've been noticing lately in Scripture is that we aren't alone in this. God himself—powerful and holy as he is—knows what it is to have his heart broken. He isn't sitting up in the clouds somewhere, watching with detached interest as if we're some daytime TV show. He's fully engaged with us, pouring out his love on us and longing for us to love him back. When he made us, he could have created beings who were automatically loyal to him, who robotically returned his affection. But instead, he designed us with the will to decide how we'd respond to him, and in doing so, he opened his heart to profound love—and profound heartache.1