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“A man’s spirit can endure in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?”

Proverbs 18:14

Cynically my finite brain completes this Proverb with divine wisdom in absentia: “A man’s spirit sustains him in sickness … except when it doesn’t!” Then my subjective reason kicks in with, “what’s the distinction between a sick and a crushed spirit?” Given that understanding, “What then is the tipping point? Where is my tipping point?” The ‘when’ seems superfluous since on multiple occasions personal internal struggles will whisper:

  • “Haven't you already hit the wall with enough force to stop?”

  • “Today’s crisis and empty results should be enough to make you retire from life.”

  • “Do you even know what success would look in your work? What it would feel like?”

  • “Survival is a temporal novocaine to your insufficiency. You should be embarrassed, and the most sensible thing to do is to give up and quit.”

Surrender however is very different from quitting. Chronic sickness is quite different than grinding termination.

Crushed’ relates better to ice, gravel, grains, herbs, spices, and certain fruits - not for the human spirit. I don’t deny it happens. Anyone who has lost someone they love has experienced the acute nature of grief. A recent Harvard Study expressed that nearly one in ten will experience a more chronic, prolonged, and pathologic grief that we can describe as a crushing grief. When God disciplined King David he lamented, “I am feeble and utterly crushed…” (Psalm 34:8) Jesus Himself cried out under the weight of His impending abuse, crucifixion, and atoning death, “…‘My soul is overwhelmed (crushed) with sorrow to the point of death…’” (Matthew 26:38)

Sickness’ implies even in a feverish and diseased state the hope of healing. The arrival of the kingdom of heaven was evidenced as “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.” (Matthew 4:23) No matter how our bodies seem to war against us in a world of entropy we can endure because we know, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26) Death itself can be the great fish that consumes the sick, but like Jonah it must one day release its temporal hold on us. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55) Our sickness like that of Lazarus whom Jesus loved may end in a grave, but at the voice of Jesus everything will change. “I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” Revelation 1:18 Such hope inspires endurance.

Isn't that the point? If we hope in Christ we find strength to endure beyond the sickness, beyond the seemingly endless pain to confess: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that His life may also be revealed in our mortal body.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-9)

“No guilt in life, no fear in death— This is the pow’r of Christ in me; From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny. No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man, Can ever pluck me from His hand; Till He returns or calls me home— Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.”

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