The human spirit can endure a sick body, but who can bear a crushed spirit?
In the Hebrew Scriptures, in the Old Testament, the word “spirit” is literally the word for wind.Whenever the word wind, ruwach, is used in the Old Testament it has to do with force, with power, with energy. When it refers to your inside, the human spirit is roughly analogous to what we would call today emotional energy, passion for life, that which propels us out into life, makes us want life, makes us want to take it on, navigate, deal with it.
What is a crushed spirit, then? A crushed spirit is when you look out at life and to have no desire for it, have little or no joy in it, have no passion to get out there and deal with it. Of course, there are degrees of a crushed spirit. It can be anywhere from listlessness and restlessness to discouragement to despondency to being totally depressed and to losing all desire to live. Men and women can deal with remarkably difficult physical trials…but once their spirit is crushed, all hope seems to be crushed along with it.
Paul’s letters were written to churches that were enduring great trials. He didn’t pray for their protection or for their trials to end…he prayed for their inner being to be strengthened (Eph. 3:16). Our spirits are made strong by learning the Word of God. Our spirits are made strong by spending quality time with the people of God. Our spirits are made strong by faithfully following the commands of God. Our spirits are made strong by going to the throne room of God in prayer.
Sadly, far too many of us focus on our exterior circumstances while neglecting our inner selves. In the broken world we live in, our external circumstances are going to get rocked from time to time. Our health fails…our bank account withers…a child wanders the wrong road…a loved one dies. And while those can be terribly difficult and trying, it is the handicapping of our spirit that will cause us the most harm…which is why none of us can afford to neglect it’s health and vitality.