I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26 NIV
Looking around our home, I see the gravel in our landscaping, flagstone on the porch, and stone for the retaining wall. Stone can be useful; it's solid and lasting. However, it doesn't work well as a heart–that is not its purpose. Stone has no life!
It is, however, an excellent metaphor to describe a condition of the heart. A state that happens when we no longer feel empathy for others. We use it as a survival technique, a psychological defense, in response to the bad news, economic recovery, mass shootings, political battles, and wars. When our hearts become stone, we can shut out some of the evil. But when this happens, we also shut out the goodness. We no longer care about gentleness, humility, justice, kindness, and love.
However, when we open ourselves to Jesus Christ, he performs an operation. He doesn't try to turn that thing with no life into a functioning organ. Instead, he gives us a new heart. With that heart comes a new spirit–Christ's Spirit. We acknowledge God is alive in us and others with this new heart. That goodness still exists. We now turn over to the Father, who hears and answers our prayers, those things that formerly tempted us to harden our hearts.
God, our great physician, thank you for radical spiritual surgery. When we come to you through Jesus Christ, you remove our lifeless hearts of stone, replace them with loving hearts, and fill them with the Holy Spirit. We remember that you are at work in the world, and we do not need to despair because you are working to turn it all to good amid the wickedness and evil. Amen.