“The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?”
“A man’s spirit will endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?” – ESV
Ripped from the Headlines
How was I to know that on the same day I sat down to write this entry [originally written 4/07/13], news of the tragic suicide of Matthew Warren (age 27), Pastor Rick Warren’s son, would be all over the headlines? There was no way I could know, but God did.
After a long, long battle with mental and physical illness, including debilitating depression, Pastor Warren’s son ended his own life in a “momentary wave of despair.” Saddleback Church (where Warren is pastor) said in a statement, “Despite the best health care available, this was an illness that was never fully controlled and the emotional pain resulted in his decision to take his life...”
Doesn’t “momentary wave of despair” sound a lot like “a wounded spirit who can bear?”
There are countless stories of people who struggled through the pain and suffering of debilitating disease and deformity. Their stories inspire us all to be thankful for what we have, even if it is only bare feet – some people have no feet at all.
Not long ago I saw a video of a man who had no arms or legs. At one point it seemed like he had no future, for it seemed impossible for him to accomplish even the most basic tasks of life. Yet, with perseverance and a strong will, not to mention the belief that he “could do all things through Christ,” he has done everything from surf to dance with his wife at their wedding. As a matter of fact, it was this man who nearly brought Rick Warren to tears on a show he appeared on with Oprah Winfrey.
But when a man or woman’s spirit is crushed, when all hope is gone, life becomes very hard to bear. The fact is that plenty of otherwise healthy people die every day from despair.
Solomon knew what many people discover too late: one can have everything, but life without hope is no life at all. Sick people can endure pain for years, but a healthy man can die overnight from a broken, wounded heart.
Hope for the Wounded
The Apostle Paul once said that “if in this life only we have hope…”, then we are sure to be miserable (1 Cor. 15:19). Whether that hope be in Christ, or money, or relationships, or good health; if it is a hope that is only for the here and now, it is pretty much worthless in the long run. Hope that never has a hope of being realized is no hope at all.
But praise God this life isn’t all there is! Job, the most miserably treated man in the Bible, could have given up in despair, but from the ashes of his life he cried out…
“I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes–I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” – Job 19:25-27 NIV
Thank you, O God! Thank you for the Hope we have in You! Bear us up with your Spirit and strengthen our hearts.