The process of tenderizing involves breaking down the muscles fibers to soften. Two difference tools can be used for this process – a meat tenderizer mallet or a knife. If a meat tenderizer mallet is used, it is held in a hand and the meat is banged over and over again on first one side and then the other. If a knife is used, deep, long and thin cuts and scores are made across the muscle fibers. The final step is to subject the meat to heat in order to make it very tender.
I have found that especially in these years of being a widow, God has been tenderizing all of the pieces of my broken heart. II Kings 22 talks about Josiah who had a tender heart. During the time that he was king, his people had sunk so low that the Book of the Law had been lost. Unexpectedly, it was found and when it was read aloud to Josiah, his heart was so tender and so deeply affected that he tore his clothes. Hearing how sinful his heart and the hearts of the people were broke his heart. Josiah called all of the people together and had the Book of the Law read aloud to them. Sin was revealed, repentance was made and because of the tenderness first of Josiah’s heart and then the people’s hearts, God did not punish them.
A tender heart is not one that is cold, lifeless and unresponsive. Perhaps that is how your heart felt in the beginning stages of the loss of your husband when all you could feel was numbness. I know that I felt that way. I couldn’t concentrate enough to read my Bible. I couldn’t pray. I couldn’t sing. I couldn’t utter any words praise to my Savior.
A tender heart is one that is broken down and cut open to the point where the Holy Spirit has easy entrance. It is able to easily sense the presence of God – open to whatever He has to say or show you.
“It’s like the mariner’s compass, which having been once touched by the magnet, always turns toward the north. It may indeed oscillate and tremble backwards and forwards–but still it will return to the pole, and ultimately remain fixed at that point whence it was temporarily disturbed. So when the heart has been touched by the Spirit, and has been made tender in God’s fear, it may for a time waver to the right or to the left–but it is always trembling and fluctuating until it points toward God, as the eternal center of its happiness and holiness.” (The Gospel Pulpit, 1843)
The tender heart is sensitive toward the things of God making it aware of sins and giving it the desire to run from them. It has a desire is to be more like Christ.
Tender hearts are pliant and ready to be molded into whatever God has created them to be. It does not harden itself and want its own way. Taking control is not something that a tender heart tries to do. It allows its Creator to bend it and mold it into what He designs even though it may be painful.
There are times in our lives when there is a great shift or change that was unexpected and totally unplanned such as the death of a spouse. When that happens and the numbness begins to wear off, we have a choice to make. Are we going to harden our hearts toward God or are we going to allow Him to tenderize all of our broken pieces one by one as He begins to put our hearts and lives back together?
I found that at first there were times in the stunned disbelief of what my life has become when I needed to question God. It was no surprise to God how I was going to react. After all, He made me the way that I am and He is big enough to handle anything that I needed to say to Him. In the midst of it all, though, there was never a time that I didn’t know that I still loved God and knew that He is all that I have now.
I can say anything to Him without judgement and condemnation. He is not going to take His unfailing love and faithfulness away from me just because my flesh is weak and this process is so very painful. Instead, He continues to throw His arms around me allowing me to weep and cry and tell Him how very much I miss Bob. Then we continue walking forward hand in hand.
Tears were something foreign in my life until God began tenderizing my heart. Now tears have become very familiar and I cry very easily. Some may look at that as a weakness. I look at it as allowing others to see my tender heart. Those tears that I shed many times a week are tears of sorrow, tears of thankfulness, tears of praise, tears of missing, etc.
Has God used this time of being a widow to do the work of tenderizing your heart? If not, consider it. Yes, it hurts, but the results of having a closer relationship with God makes all the difference.
“Because your heart was tender, and you have humbled yourself before the Lord, when you heard what I spoke against this place……I also have heard you, says the Lord.” II Kings 22:19