A Crushed Spirit

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” - Proverbs 17:22
 
What a timely word for our hurting world – a world heavy with crushed spirits.

This Proverb has often served as a reminder for me to be cheerful in God, to reject grumbling and complaining, to find strength in joy. At the same time, I have used it as pressure to exist in some sort of holy happiness. I have read it as a trite prescription for the heaviness of this world.
 
However, when I read it again, I see it not so much as instruction, but as a reality God wants us to understand – that the state of our inner world certainly affects our physical being. What I mean is, we cannot separate our body, spirit, mind, will, and emotions, because what affects one affects them all. The crushed spirit dries the bones.

In recent decades, research has proven this divine wisdom with evidence that oppression has physiological as well as psychological effects on its victims.
 
God uses almost medical language to talk about remedying a broken heart:

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound...” - Isaiah 61:1

On this day 155 years ago, the last remaining slaves in the United States were freed. Although their physical bondage was removed, their spirits have endured a systemic crushing ever since. 
And it is not lost on God. He is urging us to pursue healing – for all of us (all people) and for all of us (every part of our being).

Physical healing, emotional healing, racial healing – all of our stretching toward wholeness is connected. And it will be uncomfortable. And Jesus will be with us, binding up our wounds. And in our grief, anger, confusion, and worry, we are promised joy. Cheerfulness is our medicine. Not in a forced-smile-through-the-pain kind of way. But in the way a benevolent King leads his people in a joyful parade of victory.
 
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ's triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere…” - 2 Corinthians 2:14

So to the privileged – we must engage in anti-racist action, prayer, petitions, and practices. We must engage in the healing process our nation is being presented with right now. We must, through the power of the holy spirit, join Christ in binding up the broken hearts around us.

“The human spirit can endure in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?” - Proverbs 18:14

Author | Claire Jordan

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