One of my children recently had some issues with her heart that landed her in the hospital emergency room. As a result, I did a little research on the Web and discovered that heart attacks usually occur when a clot blocks the flow of blood through a coronary artery, damaging or destroying part of the heart muscle. Heart attacks can be fatal because often people don’t take the symptoms seriously. They confuse them with a minor illness like indigestion and thus delay going to the hospital. So recognizing the symptoms becomes critical. In my daughter’s case, she did not have a heart attack, but she had all the symptoms associated with one. We are still looking for answers regarding her attacks.
Her rather frightening episode made me think of spiritual heart attacks. While they may not be fatal to our eternal life, they can cause us to lose heart so that we are rendered ineffective in service. Instead of experiencing victory and joy, we plunge into defeat and despair, trudging our way through the Christian life as though walking through heavy mud.
While my own physical heart seems strong, my spiritual heart has been under attack this past year. I understand what it’s like from firsthand experience to live and minister with a hurting heart.
If your heart is hurting, too, the following exercise will be like a spiritual angiogram … an examination to see not only where the attack is located, but to determine the cause so that you are able spiritually to live heart healthy.
Things that cause us to lose heart
Cause No. 1
- What caused the Prophet Elijah to lose heart after just having confronted and defeated the priests of Baal on Mt. Carmel? Read 1 Kings 19:1-4.
- What have you just done? Are you afraid of the consequences of having done the right thing?
- Why did Saul and his army lose heart when facing the Philistines? Read 1 Samuel 17:1-12, 32.
- What giants are you facing—people, problems, pain, pressures—that are bigger than you? Name them.
Cause No. 2
- What kept the Israelites from going in to possess the land that God had promised them? See Numbers 13:1-3 and 26-33, and Deuteronomy 1:26-28.
- What or who is keeping you from stepping out in obedient faith to claim the fullness of God’s blessing on your family, your job, your church, your business or career?
Cause No. 3
- How did God describe a possible heart attack in Jeremiah 51:46? See Matthew 24:4-8?
- Take a moment to glance through the headlines of today’s news. How do the headlines affect you?
Cause No. 4
- What heart attack is implied in Isaiah 40:28-30? See Lamentations 5:5, Galatians 6:9 and Hebrews 12:3?
- How much sleep do you need each night in order to wake up without an alarm? How much are you getting each night?
Cause No. 5
- How does the loss of a loved one affect your heart? Read Job 17:7; Psalm 119:28, 31:9; and 2 Samuel 18:31-33.
- Have you recently gone through a time of grief due to death or divorce?
Cause No. 6
- What broke Jacob’s heart in Genesis 37:12-35? Job’s heart in Job 19:14, 19? David’s heart in Psalm 41:9 and Psalm 55:12-14?
- How have you been betrayed?
Cause No. 7
- How can growing older make us vulnerable to a spiritual heart attack? Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-17.
- How old are you?
Cause No. 8
- Read Psalm 35:13-14; John 11:1-6, 17-21 and 28-32. Read also Luke 18:1. This may be the most subtle, damaging attack of all.
- What prayer request have you repeatedly brought to God, based on Scripture, confident it is in His will, yet He has not answered?
Things that strengthen our hearts
Instead of being weakened by a spiritual heart attack, it’s possible to be strengthened in your faith because of it.
Give phrases from the following verses that give the ultimate answer: Psalm 73:26; Proverbs 3:5-6; John 11:25-26, 40; Isaiah 40:31; Lamentations 3:19-26; 1 Peter 1:6-7.
Keep Your Focus on God
Give phrases from these verses that encourage us to stay:
- Focused on God’s presence: Deuteronomy 1:29-31, 31:6
- Focused on God’s power: 1 Samuel 17:33-37, Exodus 14:13-14
- Focused on God’s plan: Jeremiah 51:47-48, Psalm 2:1, 4
- Focused on God’s purpose: 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, 1 Peter 1:6-7
- Focused on God’s person: Hebrews 12:2-3, Psalm 27:1-3
- Focused on God’s promises: Numbers 23:19, Joshua 23:14
Place Your Faith in God’s Word
- Give phrases from the following verses that encourage you to read your Bible, claim God’s promises and trust His Word to be so: Isaiah 55:9-11; Psalm 119:41-43, 89; Matthew 24:35.
- How do you read your Bible? Do you read it just for facts and information, or do you read it also to hear the voice of God speaking to you personally through it? (Please see my website, AnneGrahamLotz.com, for help with your approach to Bible reading.)
- What do you need to do now to make reading your Bible part of your daily routine?
Pray for Each Other
- If you and I truly are to be strengthened by heart attacks instead of weakened, we need to employ the third part of the answer.
- Describe this aspect of the answer from: Romans 15:30; Ephesians 3:16, 6:18-19; James 5:16; 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 and 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17.
- What encouragement do you also receive from: Luke 22:32? Romans 8:26-27? Hebrews 7:25?
When your heart is hurting and under attack, instead of complaining, indulging in self-pity, or allowing bitterness and resentment to seep in, will you embrace the answer?
©2012 Anne Graham Lotz