A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Broken Spirits

Posted on: July 10, 2014

Ever know someone who maintained a positive attitude while weathering a serious illness, having trouble finding work, or grieving a loss of some kind?

Several years ago, doctors diagnosed a friend of mine with terminal cancer. At her most ill, she convinced many of her friends that she would soon be well enough to go for neighbourhood walks, have her portrait taken, and learn to scrapbook. While she eventually lost her battle with the disease, she saw one more Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter; her son’s birthday; and one more anniversary. In short, she survived about five months longer than her doctors had predicted.

A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.

So we read in Proverbs 17:22*. Faith and prayer that God will bring us through a crisis can make a huge difference in our recovery, our strength to persist in tackling a problem, or our acceptance of a loss. Hopelessness, however, can leave us struggling to recover or feeling defeated or unable to move on.

We find a similar message in Proverbs 18:14:

A man’s spirit will endure sickness;

but a broken spirit who can bear?

The signs of poor physical health may be easy to spot: poor colour, sudden weight loss, difficulty getting around. But a broken spirit? How do we spot that? Do we want to?

Many of us are cocooned in our homes with our electronic devices or hunch over them as we use public transit or wait in line. And it almost feels invasive to make eye contact with others as we walk down the street or shop in a store. It becomes easy for people to hide their loneliness or sadness—and even easier for us not to notice.

If we do make the time and effort to notice others are hurting, we need to pray for them—or, better still, with them—bearing in mind verses such as these and sharing them with those who are willing to hear:

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted,

and saves the crushed in spirit.

~ Psalm 34:18


He heals the brokenhearted,

and binds up their wounds.

~ Psalm 147:3


(F)ear not, for I am with you,

be not dismayed, for I am your God;

I will strengthen you, I will help you,

I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.

~ Isaiah 41:10

May we ask God to guide us to those who need us to listen to and pray for and with them, and may we have the courage to ask for prayer when our own spirits feel broken.

(*Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)


Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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