There are two kinds of sickness that can come upon us. One is a sickness that we can endure and bear - but there is a second type mentioned in the Scripture that is impossible to bear without the work and grace of God being upon us.
We are told that the spirit of a man can endure his sickness. This sickness mentioned here is the word used for various illnesses that come upon us due to the face that we live in a fallen world. The entrance of sin into our world ruined it. It also introduced sickness and death into our world as well. But a man's spirit can help him endure his sickness. I am about to share something that will cause some to react badly. If we live in this world, we are going to face illness and sickness. Because of the fall of man and the entrance of sin into our world - sickness also came into it as well. What I mean by this is NOT that anyone who is sick must have sinned. That is false doctrine. But what I do mean is that when sin entered the human race - death did as well. Now all things are running down - aging - and generally falling apart. The second law of thermodynamics tells us that things are moving from order to disorder. That is true in our very makeup itself. Our cells are breaking down - our DNA is liable to mutation (which is never good) - and we will slowly fall apart until we physically die. This is fact. Those who think we can go through all of life simply confessing divine health - and therefore never having to be sick or adversely affected by the degeneration of our world or ourselves are sadly mistaken. They to will die due to the sin of man.
Now, before I completely depress you, let me return to our proverb today. Our spirit can help us endure sickness. There is an inner strength that is granted to us in our spirit that helps us deal with the fact that we are human. We will make it through sickness. I've seen the extreme of this in believers who glorify God in the midst of terminal illnesses. There is something so alive and strong in them - even in the midst of their last days. They conquer death - even as they face it. That is the power of God working in our spirits.
But the Proverb does warn of a second sickness that is unbearable to the human condition. "But as for a broken spirit who can bear it?" The word for broken here is so telling. It does not refer to what we experience at the end of a romance - the famous broken heart of romantic movies and novels. This broken spirit is one that is stricken and scouraged. It refers to more than just suffering. It refers to when we come to see that everything we can live for in this life means nothing. It is the brokenness that God actually seeks to bring us to in life. It is a brokenness that cannot be cured with more stuff or more power. It won't be solved by a new romance - or another boyfriend or girlfriend. This brokenness goes to the very depths of our spirit. It is God telling us that we cannot be self-repaired. We need Him. That is why the wise man poses the question, "Who can bear it?" No one can - except he turn to God. Only He can reach to the very core of our deadness and cause our spirit to come alive. This work He does by the Spirit of God as He applies the gospel of Jesus Christ to our broken condition. Then we find ourselves fixed - and actually far more than fixed. We are reborn - and our spirit comes alive as the Holy Spirit grants us the very life of God.
The wise man knows as he sees and endures the sicknesses of this present world that something is terribly wrong with this world. The death that reigns over this present world points us to a much deeper death that reigns over our souls. This brokenness of spirit can only be repaired by God. He has given the cure in the gospel of Jesus Christ. And . . . a wise man knows to turn to God for His ultimate remedy for a broken spirit.