Worse Than the Flu

by Aaron Kemple

A man’s spirit will endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear? (Proverbs 18:14)

Lots of folks around us are sick right now. The flu and other yucky-ness is going around. I had my own bout with it in recent days. The above verse encourages us to think about how a person’s spirit can endure physical sickness and eventually move on. Most of us can be sick for a few days, slowly fight off a cold or flu bug, and get over it in a relatively short amount of time. Afterwards, the inner spirit isn’t much worse for the wear.

But Solomon also encourages us to realize that if the spirit is “crushed” … who can bear it? “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Prov 17:22). A vibrant and hopeful spirit can sustain a person in difficult times and give them the drive to keep going, but when someone is “crushed” on the inside, even their physical condition might deteriorate to match their inner state. David put it this way: “I am poor and needy, for my heart is wounded within me” (Psa 109:22).

There are people all around us who are broken and crushed on the inside. As you consider that truth and maybe even envision some faces, also consider what Proverbs says about the power and potential of careful, compassionate, wise words:

  • Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. (Prov 12:25)
  • To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is! (Prov 15:23)
  • The heart of the wise instructs his mouth and adds persuasiveness to his lips. Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. (Prov 16:23-24)

Let’s remember this week that the Lord who “binds up the brokenhearted” (Isa 61:1) has comforted us in our afflictions that we might comfort others (2 Cor 1:3-4). Who knows the difference “a good word,” an “apt answer,” or “gracious persuasiveness” could make in the life of someone who’s hurting. That’s wisdom and an opportunity worth praying for today.