Steve Sutton writes:

A Broken Heart and a Wounded Spirit

Do you find it difficult to relate to others
and to fit into the world about you?
Are you finding it hard to cope?

The heart or the spirit is the source of our life. It is the centre of our being. If the spirit is damaged, wounded or corrupted in any way, (and the Bible says it can be) our ability to relate normally to others, to ourselves and to God is hampered.

"Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard (your heart), for out of it flows the springs of life." (Proverbs 4:23)

Varying degrees of damage to the human spirit can be incurred. For a small minority of the wounded the damage is only slight; they are able to get on with their lives with the hurt causing only a minimum of irritation or inconvenience. Many more of the wounded are more affected and limp through life. They survive a relatively normal life but fail to realise their full potential in their friendships, in their marriages or in their day to day relationships with others. Then there are those with extreme or severe damage to their spirit. These people are greatly incapacitated; dysfunctional with all manner of emotional, psychological, physical and social disabilities. These people are forced to crawl or need to be carried through life.

"My heart is broken within me" Jeremiah 23:9.

Jeremiah goes on to say his hurt was because the Pastors, Shepherds and the Prophets had failed in their leadership responsibility. (The damage bad leadership can cause has been explained in another session). Broken hearts and damaged spirits can also be brought about by the actions of our families, friends and close acquaintances. Our own actions can also contribute. This paper explores the hurts caused by these other circumstances.


There is a close association between unresolved guilt and physical & inner sickness.

"My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. My wounds fester...I am bowed down and brought very low...there is no health in my body...even the light has gone from my eyes" Psalm 38:4-10.

I had occasion to counsel a 40 year old man who was confined to a wheelchair. He couldn't walk or feed himself. Prayer for healing brought no benefit. When asked what had happened 1-2 years before the deterioration in his body, his response was; "I slept with my best friend's wife." The guilt of that event had crippled him. Unresolved guilt makes our sins appear to be bigger than God's capacity to forgive.

Guilt is akin to the pain we feel when we put our hands into a flame. The pain warns us to take our hands out quickly before we are seriously burnt. Guilt is like this pain; it is a positive thing. Its role is to activate our consciences to our failures and to direct us to the Cross to receive forgiveness and cleansing. Guilt, that isn't resolved is this way, festers within our souls causing anguish and even physical suffering.

Unkind Words

The old saying; "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" is a dangerous lie. Words have spiritual values. They can create life in our spirit or they can produce death.

"The tongue has the power of life and death" Proverbs 18:21.

"A lying tongue hates those it wounds and crushes, and a flattering mouth works ruin" Proverbs 26:28.

"The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit"Proverbs 15:4.

Negativity and criticism can do more to wound and bruise the spirit than physical violence.


Abuse takes on three forms: verbal, physical and sexual.

Verbal abuse is a sad part of our culture. It is all too common to hear people making fun of and ridiculing children, spouses and one another. In spite of the intention, this still hurts. It is particularly harmful when it comes from those who are close, who instead should support and uphold.

"Scorn has broken my heart and has left me helpless. I looked for sympathy, but there was none, for comforters, but I found none" Psalm 69:20.

Physical violence is a major feature in entertainment; on television, videos and in the theatres. Media reports of real and wide spread physical abuses are forever before us. Young children are injured, wives are beaten and people are attacked on the streets.

"...the unfaithful have a craving for violence" Proverbs 13:2.

Sexual abuse, rape and incest are also major problems within our society. Because of the intimate nature of these forms of abuse, they are frequently concealed or denied. As a consequence the victims are denied justice and the guilty escape blame. To hide such abuses is debasing to the victims. In Samuel the story is told how Amnon, the son of David, became infatuated with his half-sister Tamar and raped her. In spite of her protestations, her brother, Absalom, convinced her to conceal the assault.

"And Tamar lived in her brother Absalom's house, a desolate woman" 2 Samuel 13:20.

In times of abuse there is a great need for support. If this is not forthcoming there is a strong sense of isolation. Without this support those, who are not at fault, frequently end up blaming themselves and languish in the guilt, which rightfully belongs to others.


Sorrow or heartache is a damaging emotion.

"A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache (sorrow KJV) crushes the spirit" Proverbs 15:13.

Heartbreak is frequently the end product of an unfulfilled desire or craving, the outcome of unrealistic expectations, where another person or some material pursuit is worshipped or idolised. It can also be the result of an inability to forgive and let go of those who have sinned against us.

"So also my heavenly Father will deal with every one of you if you do not freely forgive your brother from your heart his offences" Matthew 18:35.

The Promise of Healing

Christ came to bring comfort and healing and the broken hearted can find healing in Him.

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the broken hearted" Luke 4:18.

"The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." (Psalm 34:18) "He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds" Psalm 147:3.

How does healing come?

In an imperfect world people will be hurt. We each need to take control of our responses to inflicted hurts. Where we have erred, we need to repent of these mistakes. Where others have hurt us we need to forgive them and not carry grudges. We need to turn to Jesus for the spiritual healing only He can bring. The wisdom and truth found in the Bible can also heal.

"The words I have spoken are spirit and they are life" John 6:63.

Just as people are usually the source of hurt, they can also be the source of healing. People who are hurting can find comfort in loving Christian fellowship. Just as it takes time for a physical injury to heal, hurts to the spirit or heart also require time to heal.

Protecting the spirit

It is important that we take steps to avoid harm.

"Guard your heart" Proverbs 4:23.

To avoid harm to our spirit, we must walk in forgiveness. Keep short accounts and don't carry grudges. Deal with any over-sensitivities. As children of God we can all walk with strength. Don't expect perfection from others.

"...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" Romans 3:23.

Read, learn and speak out the word of God for this is the source of truth, wisdom and blessing.


Copyright � 1995 Steve Sutton. All rights reserved. May be freely used and reproduced except for profit and provided all copyright and contact information is intact.

Unless otherwise stated, all scriptures quoted in these articles are from the New International Version of the Bible, � New York International Bible Society, used by permission. Other versions referred to are: KJV (King James Version), NKJB (New King James Bible), TLB (The Living Bible), Amp (The Amplified Bible) and The Message. All versions used by permission.

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