Proverbs 17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
This Proverb is well-known precisely because of its demonstrable truth. Many studies have shown the huge influence our hearts (mind, attitude, emotions) have over our bodies. We have documented examples of superhuman strength, for example when a mother single-handedly lifts a car off of her child. Emotions and attitude are huge predictors of medical outcomes with many diseases, from broken bones to cancer. For that matter, unforgiveness has been shown to greatly increase the risk of cancer. Using the Greek terms, the psyche (soul or spirit) has a big impact on the soma (body). That’s where we get the term, psychosomatic, meaning physical problems that originate in the mind. That’s the opposite of what this verse is talking about. We tend to put people down for “psychosomatic” disorders, but we don’t realize how much that’s part of everyone’s daily life. Maybe ours don’t send us to the doctor, but I don’t think anyone’s immune. Ant that brings up the huge impact mood has on the immune system. Quite a few years ago a study was done in Britain of all the traditional ways to catch a cold. A large group of volunteers were subjected to all sorts of indignities, including exposure to people who already had colds. The fascinating result was that none of them became sick! The awareness that they were participating in a study that might help many people buoyed them psychologically to the point that their immune systems went into overdrive. We do well when we acknowledge and act on the wisdom of the Bible!
This is of course very timely, since my wife is still in the hospital after having had major back surgery less than a week ago. Her attitude is certainly key to her recovery. Just now she texted that her blood pressure is high, which is concerning since her blood pressure is usually quite low. Emotional stresses are widely recognized to have a big impact on that! She has recently been reminded of this verse (she read today’s reading yesterday by mistake) and needs grace in applying it. A psychologist friend of mine has repeatedly described me as a happy person, and my health is pretty remarkable for my age. I’m not to take personal pride in that, but focus on gratitude toward my Lord who is so good to me. I am certainly not to put others down for their health problems, but I do deal with some people who seem to be emotionally predisposed to illness. One brother is almost comical in his finding the dark side of anything! I am to speak the truth in love, living as an example of what God does for those who trust Him, so that many may be delivered from the traps of the devil to live in the fullness of all that Christ has for them. (John 10:10)
Father, thank You for this reminder. I do pray that Cathy would be able to rest, relax, and rejoice, just as You told me to do, so that not only her blood pressure but every other part of her body may be infused with the healing and health that You have provided in Christ, (Isaiah 53:5) for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!