Today, we recognize the whole person as having three interactive dimensions of body, mind, and spirit. We care for the body through proper nutrition and exercise. We care for the mind through similar efforts that help keep us grounded in reality and social behavior. But what about the spirit? How do we care for our spirit?
Well, it is the dimension of our spirit where we hold our sense of well-being, our perspective of purpose, our outlook of life, our sense of meaning, and our quality of expectancy. I’m sure you could find better or more succinct definitions on the human spirit if you did some deeper searching, but this a general working definition that I deal with day in and day out in my role as a hospital chaplain.
When one is lying in a hospital bed dealing with the news of a discovered disease, the patient’s spiritual strength is going to impact how they cope and ultimately heal. If one’s spirit is distressed and they get news of having cancer, they are more likely to lack the ability to fight or care about their own future.
In the opposite sense, if a patient has a healthy spirit and they get news of a serious disease, they are more likely to cope and fight against it. Even if they get a diagnosis of a short term life expectancy, a patient with a strong spirit is going to get more out of their short days than a patient with a weak spirit.
So, how does one develop a strong human spirit?
The single best way to strengthen one’s spirit is to build one’s faith in God. The spirit is spiritual. When our spiritual self is nurtured and in regular development, our human spirit is strong and a reservoir to draw from when coping with trying circumstances of life.
Allow me to be honest with you and admit that the human spirit can find support from family, friends, being associated with causes and organizations greater than us, and even through the practices of various religious rituals.
However, the single most effective way to build up one’s spirit, I believe, is to grow in biblical faith. I am an advocate of biblical faith, which is not necessarily the same as church involvement or denominational adherence. If you are laying in a hospital bed dying, you’re not likely to cope easier knowing that your name is on a church membership role, but you will find strength knowing the truths of Scripture.
2 Timothy 3:16 states that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” and it is in spending time in the Bible that we experience the “profitable” benefits for ourselves.
We have the words of Jesus in Matthew 4:4 that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” The word of God, the Bible, is life to us and in seeking it we find the abundant life Jesus spoke of in John 10:10.
There is comfort for our souls as we spend time in the Bible. Romans 15:4 states “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”
On a final note regarding the value of being in the Bible, consider Jesus’ prayer in John 17:17 where He prayed, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” To sanctify means to set apart as holy or as pure. Who, in the face of any trial, wouldn’t want to be sanctified to succeed or overcome their trial by the ultimate victory of eternity?