How A Lack Of Love Can Crush Your Spirit (And what that has to do with the San Francisco Giants’ run to the World Series)

love and depression

Jake Peavy with Bruce Bochy (Bochy is in the dugout) in San Diego

A Giant Difference

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down,

But a good word makes it glad. Proverbs 12:25

Continuing our series on suffering we see in this proverb another cause of a crushed spirit. What we see here is what relationships can do to us. A lack of relationship, a lack of a good word, a lack of love can crush us. But a good relationship, one with a good word, can send us soaring.

I read an article today about Jake Peavy, a pitcher for the World Series bound San Francisco Giants. You may have heard that he played for the Boston Red Sox this season up until July 26, when he was traded to the Giants. And here’s the weird thing: Peavy was 1-9 with the Red Sox. But after he went to the Giants he won 6 and lost 5 with a greatly improved stat line. He also pitched 5 and 2/3 scoreless innings against Washington in the Division Playoff Series.

So what made the difference? In Jake Peavy’s own words:

“…I’m playing for this man (manager Bruce Bochy) again. It’s a special relationship we have and I couldn’t ask for more, to be honest with you. It’s been a great fit. I got back with familiar faces. I got back to people who believe in me. (Bochy) believes in me…”

(Jake Peavy played for Bruce Bochy in San Diego the year Peavy won the NL Cy Young Award.)

Love And The Crushed Spirit

I’m guessing that while Peavy was playing for the Red Sox where he was 1-9, he was experiencing some anxiety. I’m guessing his heart was weighed down. But after he was traded to the Giants, he was around people with whom he had great relationships. He was around people who loved him. He was around people who offered a good word, if you will.

So a lack of love can be the cause of a crushed spirit and suffering. And receiving love from another human being can be restorative. With love our spirit can sometimes soar. With love we can go from depression to joy. We can go from 1-9 to 6-5 and a trip to the World Series.

We were designed by God that way. When he saw Adam in the garden God said, “It is not good for man to be alone…” We are designed, by God, for relationships. We’re designed by God to be loved by others. We have an innate affinity for love, and support, and a good word. (Genesis 2:18)

The Ultimate Lack Of Love

I think maybe the ultimate lack of love occurs when we’re isolated. Before this blog post I did a lot of reading on medical websites about isolation and loneliness. Isolation is terribly destructive to us. Too much time alone causes anxiety, and depression, and stress. It causes our hearts to be weighed down. And there are physical problems associated with isolation as well–your immune system doesn’t work right when you’re alone. One thing is for sure, when you’re truly alone, you have no chance of receiving a good word. Because we’re designed for relationships is why we don’t function well when we’re isolated. Today science is saying what God said thousands of years ago, it really isn’t good for man to be alone.

Where You Can Receive A Good Word

When I was reading about loneliness the proposed solution was to develop support networks for lonely people where they can receive a good word. Can you think of a place like that? If your spirit is crushed right now as you read this, take comfort, because our God already has that covered. He says to you, and He says to me, “…stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

God has already prepared a place for people with crushed spirits. God has already prepared a place where people can receive a good word: His community of believers, His church.

So go. Go to church and receive a good word. And give a good word too because we’re commanded to assemble not just to receive encouragement but to encourage one another. And that’s what a relationship is, it’s something that flows two ways.

Giving and receiving encouragement will change the condition of your crushed spirit.

That’s how God designed us to work.

So go to church.

I hope to see you there.

You might also like, Steve Mays’ Life of Suffering (and how God healed him)

References and Resources:

Tim Keller has an excellent teaching on what the Bible says about the causes of a crushed spirit. You can listen to it here: The Wounded Spirit (HT to my friend Ryan Sample, pastor of Lakeside Family Church, for recommending this teaching.)

Skip Heitzig, Christians in the Crucible of Pain, Connection Communications, 2012

Jim Davis, Why Me? (And Why That’s the Wrong Question), Leafwood, 2014

Steve Mays, Overwhelmed by God, Regal Books, 2014

Nick Cafardo, Ex-Red Sox Jake Peavy a different pitcher with Giants, The Boston Globe

Bible Gateway

Deborah Cohen, Why does being lonely make you ill?, BBC World Service Health Check

One of the Strangest Questions Jesus Ever Asked

Why am I afraid

Why Are You Afraid?

“Why are you afraid?” he asked. This has to be one of the strangest questions Jesus ever asked his disciples. And this blog post explains why.

What Happened Leading Up To The Question

After a long day of teaching Jesus tells his disciples to jump into the boat and go over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. But as they make their way across, a storm comes up. Some of the disciples are experienced commercial fishermen, so they’re familiar with the Sea of Galilee and its associated weather. With that in mind it follows, this storm that comes up, it’s well beyond the norm for storms in that area. The winds are extreme to the point where waves are covering the boat. (Matthew 8:23-27) The storm is so intense that these experienced commercial fisherman are convinced they’re going to die. Meanwhile Jesus, likely exhausted from teaching and healing the pressing multitude, is in the back, asleep.

So they wake him up and they say, “…do you not care that we are perishing?”

And he asks them, “Why are you afraid?”

Strange question.

Why I Become Afraid

Why are you afraid? Under the circumstances it seems like a strange question to me. Under the current circumstances of the disciples, I have to confess, fear feels like a reasonable reaction to me. And maybe you’ve experienced that same feeling. I know I have. I’ve experienced that feeling like I was drowning in my problems. Overwhelmed by difficulties. The storm in my life was way beyond my own energy and ability to overcome. And it felt like God didn’t care. It felt like He was napping in the back of the boat.

Have you ever felt that way?

I have a friend who felt that way about his diseased body. I have another friend who felt that way about his unemployment. And another friend who felt that way about his lonely single lifestyle.

I think we have all felt that way. But I think Jesus would ask each of us the same question, “Why are you afraid?”

What He Said Next

Jesus didn’t stop after he asked, “Why are you afraid?” He asked a second question that provides insight into why he asked the first. His second question was this: Continue reading

Steve Mays’ Life Of Suffering (And how God healed him)

Steve Mays Life of Suffering

We’ve been exploring what the Bible has to say about suffering and right in the middle of this series of blog posts, God did something for Steve Mays, the pastor of Calvary Chapel South Bay, that I just have to share.

An Improbable Life Of Suffering

Steve’s life was often heavy with suffering. He battled drug addiction as a teenager which led to a series of strange and destructive events while he was still living at home with his father and mother. One time when Steve’s parents came home, as they opened their front door, water gushed out. Steve turned their house into a swimming pool by stuffing towels under the exterior doors and filling the place up with water. They found him in the living room smoking a pencil. He was completely oblivious. Instead of acknowledging the damage he’d done, he talked to them about the show he was watching on TV–but the TV was turned off.

Another time Steve’s parents arrived home to find him fixing a meal for a friend who lived inside the clock hanging on the kitchen wall.

Another time he terrorized his parents by angrily pacing around the house while swinging a machete.

The bewildering thing about Steve’s behavior was that he was a normal kid until junior high school. His parents didn’t know it but during that time in junior high he was Continue reading

How Can I Trust In God When I’m Seriously Sick Or Injured?

pain and suffering Christian

Oresto, 4, with his father in the special unit for pediatric surgery run by the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) outside Port-au-Prince’s general hospital. He had his hand amputated the night before.

What A Man Suffering From Disease Once Said

I wish I was never born.

I’ve lost all my strength, and my disease has reduced me to skin and bones. I’m estranged from my friends and relatives. My breath is offensive to my wife. Loathsome, that’s what I am. People find me loathsome.

My cries pour out like water. I shout for help, but there is no answer. God has uprooted my hope like a tree. He has kindled His anger against me and considered me as His enemy.

I wish He would just crush me. I wish He would cut me off from the land of the living. I wish I were dead. (Job paraphrased. See Job 3:11, Job chapter 19Job 3:24Job 6:8-9)

Illness And A Crushed Spirit

Before his illness Job was intimate with God and his life reflected that relationship. He was the kind of guy who smiled often. He had the kind of face that lit up a room. He was the kind of guy who loved to help the underdog: orphans, widows, the lame, the blind, and the poor. He liked to rescue the weak from wicked people who would take advantage of their weakness: the Bible says he “broke the jaws” of such wicked men. Job was blameless and upright, fearing God and turning away from evil. And people loved him for it. He was dynamic, he was charismatic, he was popular. And his words were wise, and beautiful, and encouraging: people waited for his words like people waited for the spring rain. He held the honor and respect of the people in his community. And he was rich. (Job 1:1-5, Job 29)

Then, along with other tragedies, his disease came. It was a disease that isolated him from his family and friends. It was a disease that caused him to become emaciated. It was a disease that covered him with painful boils from head to toe.

It was a disease that made him loathsome to the same people who used to love him.

And his countenance changed. This great man of God didn’t smile like he used to. His face didn’t shine like it used to. And his words changed. He said Continue reading

A Mighty Expenditure Of Amazing Energy And What Happened Next (And what causes a crushed spirit)

Depression Christian

A Mighty Expenditure Of Amazing Energy

Elijah was coming off three amazing and miraculous events in his life. With the help of God’s Holy Spirit Elijah just “won” a showdown with 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the Asherah. “…you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, He is God,” Elijah said to the prophets of Baal and Asherah, and to the crowd of Israelites assembled there near the sacrificial altar.

The other prophets did everything imaginable including cutting themselves with swords and lances until blood gushed from them. But it was all to no avail. There was no voice, no one answered, no one paid attention.

Then Elijah poured water onto his sacrifice, twice. Then he prayed for God to let it be known that He is God in Israel. Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and even the dust around it. And when they saw it all the people fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God.” And after that the prophets of Baal and Asherah were slain.

Then Elijah prayed for rain, because there had been a great drought in Israel up until that time. He prayed with fervency and intensity. He prayed seven times. And the rain came.

Then the Bible says, “…the hand of the Lord was on Elijah, and he girded up his loins and outran Ahab to Jezreel.” And Ahab was in a chariot at the time.

Good things are happening to Elijah. God is doing amazing things through Elijah. Through him the Lord is turning the people away from false religions and turning their hearts back toward the true and living God. Through Elijah God is providing rain to a people plagued by drought. (1 Kings Chapter 18)

But look what happens next. Continue reading

Suffering (And How Paul Never Prayed For The Persecution To Go Away)

Pain Suffering Christian

It’s What’s Inside

San Francisco Giants Pitcher Dave Dravecky

Dave Dravecky pitched for the San Francisco Giants until a cancerous desmoid tumor in his pitching arm required surgery. They removed half of his deltoid muscle and froze his humerus bone to try to kill all the cancer cells. On August 10 in 1989, after a long and grueling period of rehab, he came back to the majors and pitched eight innings against the Cincinnati Reds. He pitched brilliantly and he won 4 to 3. After the game he told the media, “It’s a miracle.” But just five days later, in the sixth inning against Montreal, during his first pitch to Tim Raines, his humerus bone snapped in two. The sound of it was so loud it could be heard throughout the stadium.

The cancer was back. And he not only lost his career as a baseball player but he lost his arm. When he was interviewed about it he said this:

“Nobody ever promised that life is going to be fair. Everybody’s going to have adversity. The only way to handle it is to take our eyes off ourselves and put them on the Lord.”

After all that pain and toil and work and sweat and grief, after all that Dravecky failed. Yet look how he responded. How is that possible? How could anyone respond to that kind of adversity that way?

What’s Inside

The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear? (Proverbs 18:14)

A wounded spirit, as I understand it in the Bible, occurs when a person’s passion for life is squashed (the English Standard Version actually uses the word crushed). A depressed person could be an example of this. A suicidal person would be at the extreme end of this spectrum. And here in Proverbs 18 we see one of many places in the Bible where God’s perspective on suffering is different than the typical understanding of most Americans and many others throughout the world. We think our happiness is mostly dependent on our circumstances. If I have the right job, if I have the right woman, if I get the promotion, if I’m healthy, if I can make enough money, then… I’ll be happy.

But God says, Continue reading

A Tale Of 2 Sufferings (How Joseph’s dad failed it, and how Joseph nailed it.)

pain suffering Christian

Alex at 7,500 ft. (2,285 m..) above sea level. (3,500 ft. above ground level)

A Tale Of Two Sufferings

I never saw this perspective before, but have you ever considered the difference between how Jacob handled his suffering, as compared to how his son Joseph handled what was arguably even worse suffering? I heard this last Sunday from a 20-something.

Joseph Betrayed

So Joseph’s seventeen, and he has it made. He’s his father’s favorite. He lives in a wealthy family. And he is given special revelation from God in the form of dreams, dreams of his brothers bowing down to him. But without warning, Continue reading

After A 13 Year Old Girl Was Murdered, This Is What Her Parents Did

Pain Suffering Christian

Pain

Pain and Suffering

We’ve been exploring the topic of pain and suffering and one of the worst kinds of pain and suffering is the kind caused by the loss of a child. The following is a quote from Wilma Derkson who lost her daughter at the age of 13. (You can learn more about the Derksens and their remarkable response to their daughter’s murder in this TED Talk video: TEDxManitoba – Wilma Derksen: When Polarity in Forgiveness Happens)

Losing A Child

For six and a half weeks we didn’t know what had happened to Candace. She just disappeared into thin air.  But everyone knows that when a 13-year-old girl goes missing then something is terribly wrong.  She was a child in a woman’s body, that moment of vulnerability when one minute they’re a child and the next a woman.

Eventually Candace’s body was found in a shack not far from our home – her hands and feet had been tied. Someone had forced her there but we lived with the mystery of not knowing who had done this for the next 22 years.

The day her body was found all our friends came to visit bringing warm food with them. There was so much love in the house that it helped us get through.  Then at around 10.30 that evening, when most people had left, there was a knock on the door and this stranger stood there. He told us, “I’m the parent of a murdered child too.” He was saying we now belonged to an exclusive club that no one wants to belong to. We invited him to the kitchen table and for the next two hours he told us in vivid detail everything he’d lost – his health, his relationships, his concentration, his ability to work. He’d even lost all memory of his daughter because now he could only think of the murder, the trauma and the hate that followed. –Wilma Derksen

Losing 10 Children Continue reading

An Open Letter To Those In Pain and Suffering

Christian pain and suffering

Dear Friend In Pain,

I feel so sad and so sorry about what you’re going through right now. I can’t imagine what it’s like. I can guarantee you that what I’m sharing in this letter won’t take the pain away. And I want you to feel perfectly free not to read it. If you don’t I won’t take the least bit of offence. I only want to share with you what made the biggest difference for me when I went through my time of pain. Continue reading