In medical school I learned that the death of a spouse is a risk factor for one’s death, and many times the surviving spouse dies near an anniversary of the sad event. The connection between our soul and body is closer than we can imagine. The book of Proverbs says it this way: “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22).
Increasingly science is recognizing the intimate connections between the heart and the body. A crushed spirit dries up the bones. Brokeness can be emotional, relational or spiritual; whatever the cause, it impacts the body. It can a factor resulting in high blood pressure, anxiety, cardiovasular disease, autoimmune disorders, cancer, etc. All of these things have multiple causes (genetic, environmental, and so on) but the condition of the spirit is a vital factor.
Modern medicine has brought us some marvelous physical interventions, from drugs to CT scans. And while we are grateful for these, we must not overlook the effect the heart can play. All of us in general practice have seen cheerful hearts which bring healing, and crushed spirits that dry up bones.
I’ve seen nurses literally bring patients back to health by the care they demonstrated to the sick. On the other hand I have witnessed others who see their role as a job more than a service of love. Love becomes a powerful medium for healing. “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news brings health to the bones.” (Prov 15:30). What a privilege to see health professionals who give not just technical help, but sacrificial love.
Where does one get such a cheerful heart? Ultimately the source is not in ourselves, but in knowing the sacrifice which God has made for us in history. The objective fact is that Jesus Christ came to earth to give His life for our sin and rebellion, rising to offer hope and new life. This Easter week we are celebrating not just the idea of resurrection, but the historical fact of the resurrection of the Son of God.
That kind of cheer just doesn’t go away.