The essence of healthy life ∙
A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. – Proverbs 14:30
29 He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.
30 A tranquil heart is life to the body, but passion is rottenness to the bones.
The following words are not found in some preacher’s sermon. But they sound like they could be. Instead, they were written by the Staff of the Mayo Clinic.
“Who hasn’t been hurt by the actions or words of another? Perhaps a parent constantly criticized you growing up, a colleague sabotaged a project, or your partner had an affair. Or maybe you have had a traumatic experience, such as being physically or emotionally abused by someone close to you.”
“These wounds can leave you with lasting feelings of anger and bitterness – even vengeance.”
“But if you do not practice forgiveness, you might be the one who pays most dearly. By embracing forgiveness, you can also embrace peace, hope, gratitude, and joy. Consider how forgiveness can lead you down the path of physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being” (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/forgiveness/art-20047692).
Proverbs 14:30 explains the connection between our emotions and physical well-being. The heart, as used here, refers to one’s inner self, our immaterial nature. It embodies the three traditional personality functions: emotion, mind, and will. Thus “a heart at peace” is better rendered as “a healthy mind.”
When we harbor and nourish unrestrained negative emotions and uncontrolled feelings of resentment, the result can be dire physical consequences. “A healthy mind brings healing to the whole body. By contrast, uncontrolled passions can destroy the body as quickly as a deadly disease. The wise understood the human being holistically. Thoughts and feelings affect the physical state” (Dave Bland).
REFLECT & PRAY
Frustration and irritation are unavoidable realities of life. How we react to them is a choice.
Father I readily admit that too frequently, my emotions are out of control. Lead me into the deep and tranquil waters of a quiet and controlled spirit.
King Solomon was renowned for his incredible wisdom. He was 3000 years ahead of modern psychology and medicine. In Proverbs 14:30, he beautifully captures in poetic language the connection between our emotions, our spirit, and our physical well-being.
Proverbs 17:22 A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.
The Hebrew word translated as good medicine is gehah. Gehah is found only here in the Old Testament. It connotes healing or a cure. The phrase could be translated, “A cheerful heart [that is, being cheerful, joyful] causes good healing,” “causes a sick person to recover,” “A cheerful heart hastens healing,” “A glad heart makes for good health,” and “A glad heart helps and heals.” Another way of expressing the line is, “If you are always happy, sickness will not spoil your life” (UBS).
But a downcast spirit dries up the bones: This line contrasts with the first and is similar in thought to Proverbs 14:30b. A downcast spirit translates the same Hebrew expression as used in Proverbs 15:13, where it is often rendered as “spirit is broken,” meaning “despair” or “discouragement.”
Bones, as part of the body in this text, represent the whole body. Dries up the bones contrasts with “makes for good healing” and means “to lose energy,” “go downhill in health,” or even “to die away,” that is, “to die slowly,” “makes the bones rot,” “It is slow death . . .” and “saps one’s strength.” We may render this line, for example, “but a despairing heart takes away a person’s strength” (UBS).
Proverbs 15:13 When the heart is sad, the spirit is broken.
The opposite of a joyful heart is a sad heart and has dreadful internal consequences for our human spirit.
“By sorrow of heart, the spirit is broken: This line contrasts with the first and asserts that sorrow depresses a person’s spirit. Sorrow of heart (literally “pain of the heart”) refers to the inner self in contrast to the outer appearance referred to in the previous line. This is psychological or emotional pain or injury, a state of sadness . . . We may say, for example, “but pain in the innermost being brings depression,” “sorrow of heart makes a person feel worthless,” or “if a person is feeling sad, his thinking falls down” (UBS).
Inward excitation, a resentful mind, which cares only for itself and gets worked up, is like bone cancer that rots the firmest components of the body and shortens a person’s life. Hot passion is rot in the bones, a condition that deteriorates to ruin and death (Waltke).
It may feel good (for a short while) to vent our anger at someone, but “the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:20). Failure to control a quick temper leads only to heartache (Stanley).
Proverbs 15:13 A joyful heart makes a cheerful face.
What is a joyful heart? The phrase could well be translated, “A glad heart makes a cheerful countenance: This line states that happiness expresses itself on a person’s face. It says literally, “A joyful heart makes good faces.” In some languages, this thought is expressed, “A happy person has a happy face,” “Happiness makes the eyes bright,” or “If a person is happy, everyone sees it in his face” (UBS).
Proverbs 18:14 The spirit of a man can endure his sickness, but as for a broken spirit, who can bear it?
This saying is closely connected in thought to Proverbs 15:13 and Proverbs 17:22.
Here the consequences of a broken spirit are the focus.
A man’s spirit will endure sickness. The term spirit can be loosely interpreted as “[your] will to live.” Thus a joyful spirit “can sustain you when you are sick,” it gives you the “desire to go on living” or “desire to stay alive.”
But when your spirit is broken, what are the possible consequences? A broken spirit is “a downcast spirit,” meaning “discouragement” or “despair.” We wind up carrying a tremendous burden or load that is almost unbearable. Many of us can identify with this. The burden is emotional depression, hopelessness, and misery.
Who can bear it? “Can anyone stand it?” “Who can bear up under it?” or “Who is able to carry on?” Without the Father, “No one can bear it.”
So we are left with two choices: to enter into depressing, negative, self-loathing, and despair, or forgive and get over it. Depending on the depth of pain, the amount of time required is variable. It is analogous to recovering from physical injury or surgery.
When someone you care about hurts you, you can hold on to anger, resentment, and thoughts of revenge – or embrace forgiveness and move forward (Mayo Clinic Staff).
Is the essence of a healthy life really that simple? Try it out yourself.
Our gracious heavenly Father has provided a way for inner healing for each child of the King.
© Dr. H 2022
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