A Wounded Spirit
By Rodney Francis
IN my travels I am continually meeting, and being led to minister to people who are carrying a wounded spirit. Something has happened in their lives that has knocked them back and from which they have been unable to rise above, or get totally free from. When we are afflicted by a wounded spirit we are unable to step out boldly to obey the Holy Spirit, and therefore so much of God’s purposes for us are lost in our inability to release faith in a consistent manner. The subject of a wounded spirit is an important one, as it affects so many people. Many don’t even understand what it is, or how it affects us. The Book of Proverbs Chapter 18 is a key chapter on this subject. Proverbs 18:14 makes a statement, then asks a vital question:
“The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity
(sickness, disease, weakness), but a wounded spirit who can bear?”
We can endure all kinds of physical affliction, but when our spirit is wounded – and a wounded-spirited person is someone who has been hurt and bruised and/or damaged in their spirit – it can be very painful.
A wounded spirit comes as a result of a re-action to negative words, events, actions, or a violation of your person or rights – a re-action that crushes you, knocks you down and from which you cannot seem to rise. It crushes an area of your life – your spirit – which is quite devastating in how it affects us. It seems we cannot heal ourselves of a wounded spirit. We need someone else to release it in positive, believing prayer.
There are many ways that we can receive a wounded spirit:
NEGATIVE, CRITICAL WORDS
Someone says something to you that “knocks you flat” and you can’t get over it. Those words have penetrated deeply into your spirit in a hurtful, crushing kind of way.
“The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters” (Proverbs 18:4 ).
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue . . .” (Proverbs 18:21 ).
Words produce either death or life – in those who speak them, and in those who receive them. Marriages – even Christian marriages – are broken by the critical words spoken between a husband and a wife, and vice versa.
“A fool gets into constant fights. His mouth is his undoing! His words endanger him”(Proverbs 18:6 , TLB).
The words we speak penetrate very deeply! The repeating of negative and critical gossip about others is not good:
“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts”(Proverbs 18:8 , NIV). Those “inmost parts” are his spirit.
Sin is the curse of humanity! Sin is whatever comes between us and God! It affects our spirit! In Psalm 38 we read of David acknowledging a wounding in his life and spirit:
“Your arrows have pierced me, and Your hand has come down upon me . . . there is no health in my body; my bones have no soundness because of my sin. My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly . . . ” (Psalm 38:1-5 , NIV).
“A wounded spirit who can bear?”
David was hurting because of his guilt and consciousness of sin.
“For your sin is an incurable bruise, a terrible wound. There is no one to help you or to bind up your wound and no medicine does any good. All your lovers have left you and don’t care anything about you any more; for I have wounded you cruelly, as though I were your enemy; mercilessly, as though I were an implacable foe; for your sins are so many, your guilt is so great” (Jeremiah 30:12-14 , TLB).
Sin wounds us! When we put sin out of our life (through genuine repentance), our spirit is released to heal.
Sexual immorality is a breeder of wounded spirits. Perhaps more people get wounded in this area of human relationships than anywhere else? Every wrong relationship can do damage to our spirit. The Bible separates sexual sins from all other sins (1 Corinthians 6:15-20 ). Christians are joined to the Lord as “one spirit.” Sexual immorality joins us to the body of the other sexual partner. It is spiritual. Sexual immorality affects every part of our being: spiritual, physical, emotional, our conscience and our mentality. It has the power to create another human being “in the image of God.”
“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18 , NIV).
Regarding adultery, the Bible declares:
“But the man who commits adultery is an utter fool, for he destroys his own soul. Wounds and constant disgrace are his lot . . . ” (Proverbs 6:32-35 , TLB).
The physical act has spiritual consequences – a wounded spirit. (Proverbs 7 has more to say on this).
David picked up a wounded spirit as a result of his adultery with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11 and Psalm 51 ). According to his confession in Psalm 51 , David lost so much in his relationship with God because of his adultery. He paid a high price spiritually and he paid a high price physically. His family were also “wrecked” through immorality. David’s son (Amnon) raped David’s daughter (Tamar) (half sister) (2 Samuel 13 ), which led to murder, etc. All in all, a real tragedy of events. It isn’t worth it! (For further reading on this subject, see my book “Counselling & Deliverance”).
The thief comes to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10 ). Satan loves to wound our spirit. He knows that when we carry a wounded spirit, we are no real threat to him. In Psalm 143:1-4 (KJV), David is crying to God because “the enemy has persecuted my soul. He has smitten(“bruised and wounded”) my life down to the ground . . . therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate (“laid waste” – Wilson’s; “made numb, stunned, devastated” – Strong’s).”
A wounded spirit brings down. It never lifts us up. Satan knows this. He wants us down! The Good Samaritan is a good example of knowing how to lift up the wounded. He knew what to do. He knew to pour in “the oil and the wine.” Why? He identified with the wounded man’s condition (Luke 10:25-37 ). Samaritans knew what rejection was, as “the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans”(John 4:9 ). The man was restored.
REJECTION FROM LEADERS
As this paper is written in the Christian context, we’ll keep it to Church authorities - and other Christians. We have such high expectations of Leaders that when they fail us, or especially knock us back, or overlook us, it is easy for us to get discouraged and wounded. David experienced that rejection with King Saul (1 Samuel Chapters 18 to 31).
It also happens when Leaders promise certain positions to individuals – and then don’t deliver, or they do not communicate the change of plan. Numbers get wounded when they are encouraged to go through training courses in order to be better prepared for church ministry, but at the end of the training it doesn’t happen. Broken promises lead to broken hearts and wounded spirits. Some have been wounded trying to obey the Lord in the exercising of Spiritual Gifts and been “rebuked” or “cut down” publicly. Those “woundings” are hard to recover from, especially if one is sensitive and shy in the first place. Whatever the conflict or misunderstanding, don’t hold a grudge against Leaders. Pray for them! Give them over to God. Give the hurtful “happening” over to God – release it from your spirit. Get healed of any wounding of spirit. Press on in Jesus!
With holding forgiveness from those who have disappointed and hurt us will “lock our spirit into” its wounding. We cannot heal if we do not release the hurt to God. 2 Corinthians 2:1-11 teaches us that if we don’t forgive those who have caused us harm, Satan will take advantage of us. Let’s not be ignorant of him wanting to get his “sticky paws” into wrecking our lives and future ministries that will impact the nations.
No matter how much someone has wounded us, we do have to come to a place of being able to release forgiveness to that person. If we don’t, we will be the one who pays the highest price. We cannot afford to let anyone destroy us (because we can’t or won’t forgive) and therefore can’t heal from the original damage caused.
“A crushed spirit who can bear?” (Proverbs 18:14 , NIV).
In discussing this subject further (in a large group), we discovered some people have suffered a wounded spirit through the following:
This is indeed a very hurtful thing to work through, especially a betrayal of confidence. To be betrayed means “to disclose a secret or confidence treacherously; to break a promise, or be disloyal to a person’s trust; to disappoint the expectations of” (Collins).
When the children of Benjamin and Judah sought out David in the wilderness, one of the leading questions he asked them was, “If you come to betray me to my enemies, seeing there is no wrong in my hands, the God of our fathers look thereon, and rebuke it” (1 Chronicles 12:16-17 , KJV). David knew the power and hurt of betrayal, and he guarded against it as much as possible. Jesus warned there would be “many offended, and shall betray one another” (Matthew 24:10 ). The keeping of promises and confidences is very necessary if we do not want to be guilty of wounding our friends.
From time to time there are people who, for various reasons, have delight in making false accusations. Sometimes it is because of jealousy, sometimes it is just enjoying seeing one put down; other times ignorant gossip. Many false accusations have no affect upon us, but then there comes one that is “a bit close to the bone.” It is directed at a loved one, or yourself, or your ministry. If we don’t see those false accusations as being what they are – false! – we can take the accusation “on board” and it lodges in our spirit. We get wounded. This is where honesty is so important. We have to be honest with God, ourselves, and other people. If the accusation is false, keep it false. Don’t give room for the enemy to “take us out” because we re-act wrongly. (If the accusation happens to be true, then we need to do something about it).
This is another “biggie,” especially as it is so rampant in society today. To experience going from one extreme of being so in love with someone that you marry that person, and then to see it all change to the point where they can no longer love and live together, is a great tragedy. It affects the emotions, afflicts the mind, throws the children into turmoil, upsets the wider family and relatives, and changes the course of one’s life. Rejection can become a huge issue. Many hurts are picked up. Attitudes are hardened. Later on, if those woundings are not dealt with and healed, the “baggage” from the broken marriage is carried over to a new relationship. Often the process repeats itself. More hurts and woundings eventuate.
RELATIONSHIPS CUT THROUGH A DEATH
The loss of a close loved one, relative or friend, can be a devastating blow. We all face the losing of someone to the death process. It is a sad fact that many people do not know how to relate to those who are suffering loss and grieving the death of a husband, wife, child, parent, close friend, etc. Our spirit, which is very vulnerable at that time, can be wounded by the words and actions of someone who doesn’t understand what is going on inside the heart of those suffering loss. Sometimes the wounding happens because their close friends say and do nothing – just sitting in silence can sometimes be very hurtful. Other times people talk “rubbish” – or too much - and that can be equally hurtful. We need to be sensitive to the needs of those grieving the death of a loved one. If you’re not sure, Ask! Don’t let your friendship be cut off with those who grieve. Be mindful of the shock and “numbness” they’re experiencing.
HAVING TO ACT AS AN ADULT WHILE STILL A CHILD
This was an interesting discussion. To listen to those who had experienced being the eldest child in a large family and being made to take major responsibility for all the younger brothers and sisters – while they themselves were still so young – brought about a wounded spirit. To expect a tender young life to do what it is not made to do at that stage of their development can only cause damage. That damage is carried through in attitudes that cause hurt in others. “Hurt people hurt people.”
A wounded spirit comes into the lives of those children who are subjected to incest, prostitution, and other abuses (emotional, mental, physical, sexual, verbal, etc.). Many develop such a poor, low image of themselves that they feel the only way out is suicide. And it is no secret that the numbers of young people committing suicide today is very high!
Here is a prayer you can pray (please pray it out aloud):
“Dear God, I come to You in the name of Jesus Christ Your Son. You know all about my life and circumstances; nothing that has happened to me is unknown to You. I now consciously forgive all those who have spoken negatively and done hurtful things to me. Lord, I place them on Your altar and ask You to bless them.
I now submit all my hurts and woundings to You, and ask You to release my wounded spirit to be healed, in Jesus’ mighty name! I speak to my spirit to come into divine order, that I may rise up again in Your name and know the joy and freedom of being made whole! I thank You, Lord Jesus, that You hear and answer my cry. Right now I accept my healing and give myself afresh to You. Please take over my life and let me live it in abundance to glorify You every day. In Jesus’ name I pray these things, Amen.”
I pray you will be aware of these eleven areas that can keep you down through a wounded spirit. If you feel you are suffering from a wounded spirit, seek out someone who is sensitive to the Holy Spirit and knows how to minister healing to you in a loving, compassionate way. Be prepared to forgive those who have (in your eyes) “sinned against you” (Matthew 6:12 , TLB), and then forgive yourself. Don’t tie the hands of God from healing your spirit because you won’t forgive yourself.
Thank God, that in the love of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, people can be healed of a wounded spirit. Life can change for the better when we let Jesus heal all the hurts of the past. If you are aware of having a wounded spirit right now, seek out a Holy Spirit-filled Christian with love and compassion, and ask them to pray healing into your spirit. This is important, as you cannot heal yourself of this. Reach out today. If you are unable to find someone, then please contact us at “The GFM” Ministry, and we will do what we can to minister that healing to you. God bless you.