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