If you have a had a broken heart, you know how hard life can be. It’s good to know that Jesus “restores my soul.”

This is one of the shortest phrases in Psalm 23. But it may be the most hopeful. For all of us, there is something wrong with our soul. It is bruised. It is damaged. That is why it needs to be restored. The Lord can restore it. What does this mean?

Even the best souls need restoration.

What is our soul? Our soul is the invisible part of us – the real us that thinks, feels, makes decisions, and remembers. We have a body but we also have a soul. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a room when someone passes away, but it’s an unexplainable experience. One minute the person is breathing and the next minute they aren’t – a soul is gone. And you can almost feel that they are no longer there. Their body is still with you – but somehow you know they are gone.

Your soul is hurt throughout life. One of the biggest lies we told as a kid is: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me. Yes, words hurt. Words hurt our soul and we remember. What people have done to us to breaks our heart. The bad breaks of life have damaged us on the inside. But we are often our own worst enemy and have hurt our own soul. Your soul is the part of you that grieves when a person dies and it never quite gets over that person. It still aches! But we try to put on a happy face and go on like nothing has happened. But on the inside we’re dying. We try to mask the hurt with alcohol, drugs, relationships, activity, even comedy – anything that will lessen out the pain. But our hearts are still broken and our soul is still sad.

Even David’s life was hurt. You might think as a king he had no big problems. But he was hunted by those who wanted him dead; haunted by the memory of those who were dead – Uriah his friend, his unnamed baby, Jonathan his best friend, and Absalom his grown son. David knows what it is like to have a broken heart.

We all have broken hearts – by others and by ourselves. We are thrown into this world like a baseball with a spin on it. In time we break and that break is always down. The Bible calls it sin. If sin were blue, we’d all be some shade of blue. In one way or another, we are all tinted with sin. We’re sinful and that sin goes all the way to our soul. Something is wrong in all of us and we all need our souls to be restored.

The Lord will pick us up when we are down.

There’s a problem that sheep have that we can relate to our soul – it’s called a “cast sheep. Sometimes a sheep gets turned over on its back, unable to get up. This may happen when a sheep is overweight or pregnant with a lamb. They lie down and their weight rolls them over on their back, helpless and unable to roll back over. Struggling, they make the situation worse. A cast sheep is pathetic, legs flailing in the air, gasses building up in the rumen, blood circulation draining away from the legs. It is an easy target for attack. Unable to take in food or water, if a shepherd doesn’t arrive soon, the sheep will die. Cast sheep can perish in a matter of hours unless they are restored by a shepherd. It reminds me of the commercial for Life Alert, where the woman cries out, “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”

This happens to our soul. If you get depressed and lose heart, your soul is cast down. If you find yourself like this, you need to know that God will bring you to your feet as many times as it takes for you to get it right. He will not give upon you. You mean too much to Him.

In Psalm 42:11 he cries out, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God. . . .”

Jesus doesn’t reform; he restores. Restore means to repair or cause to return to its original condition. I have a friend that restores cars. He can take a broken down rust-bucket vehicle that is good for nothing but a scrap heap. But with a few tools, time and talent will turn it into a beautiful car that is actually worth more than when it was brand new. I can’t do that. But he can. It all depends on who is doing the work. Give your soul to the Lord because He can restore your soul.

Restoration is a result of resting and walking.

How can you restore your soul? First, you can’t. One of the wonderful things about Psalm 23 is that it doesn’t focus on what I need to do. It concentrates on what the Lord does for me. The language is all in the present moment. For example, the Lord will restore your soul if you are one of His sheep.

Second, soul restoration is a natural consequence of resting in green pastures and walking beside still waters (as David mentioned earlier in Psalm 23). Notice “He” is the one bringing about the restoration, but it is as I follow Him in the pastures and waters. Notice the action is continuous, implying that soul restoration is never complete but an ongoing process. There is never a time in our life during which the Lord is not at work, rebuilding, refreshing, and healing our heart and soul as we rest in His presence.

Sometimes it is the word of a friend or minister. Or it may be a hymn or song that blows a fresh breeze against our tired soul. It may be a paragraph, sentence or just a word spoken at just the right time that begins the healing of our heart. Sometimes it is in church but oftentimes it is while you are alone, meditating on the things of God that a spiritual sunbeam begins to break through the clouds of your heart.

Don’t expect this restoration to be instantaneous. It may take awhile. It’s like a dead battery. The battery isn’t really dead; it’s merely drained. It’s designed to expend its energy and be recharged from time to time. You just need to set it aside, plug it in, and restore your battery.

Also, don’t be discouraged that you keep getting down all the time. Just like a sheep that falls and the shepherd keeps picking it up. Sure it can be frustrating, but your shepherd will keep picking you up as long as you ask him. Sometimes we think we have to change before God will help us. No. We will change as God helps us. So keep asking.

So what can you do?

  1. Ask yourself what needs to be restored in your soul. What is broken that you can ask God to fix? Your marriage, your finances, your family, your heart?
  2. When you think of yourself as a sheep, in what areas have you strayed from the Shepherd or from the flock? Ask God to lead you back.
  3. Think of a moment when you were closest to God, when you were most at peace with His will. Ask Him to restore you back to that place when you lived continually in His presence.
  4. Your shepherd cares about your needs and hurts. No matter what you are going through right now, God cares. He wants to nourish you, heal your wounds, restore your soul. Talk to him about it.

When you go through problems, you can complain, get bitter, get angry, or you can get in agreement with God and allow Him to restore you. One of the most amazing men in the Bible is Job. Job lost almost everything – his fortune, his family, and his health. But God not only restored what he had; God gave him twice as much as he had before. He was more blessed after the trouble than he was before. He regained his health, his family, his fortune and kept his integrity. He didn’t look like what he had been through. If you would have told him in the middle of his difficulty, that one day he would be healthy, happy, and blessed he would have considered it impossible. But that’s the way the Lord is. He will restore us. Don’t judge the rest of your life by what you’re going through now. When God gets finished, nobody will be able to tell you went through the cancer, the breakup, the pandemic, the trouble. God will restore your soul.