After watching various individuals go through turmoil and trial in their lives, I have observed the tendency for some to rise high, soaring above that turmoil, while others sink lower into the pit of despair. It made me wonder why some flourish so well, while others just barely eek by and often have a hard time even holding up under the pressures of life. Most of us would think it is because some are anchored well in their faith, while others have little to no faith at all, so if faith plays a part in "holding up" and "conquering", then what part does it play? I have observed Christians and non-Christians alike in both circumstances. Why do some flourish and others not - maybe it is because of the condition of their spirits. Scripture points us in that direction, does it not? A man or woman with a "healthy spirit" conquers adversity - a crushed spirit will get us down quicker than anything else!
A healthy spirit conquers adversity, but what can you do when the spirit is crushed? (Proverbs 18:14 MSG)
The spirit of man is what animates him - it gives us the connection we need for life itself - the connection with the source of all life - God himself. When the spirit is well, the entire man is well - regardless of the circumstances coming their way. I'd like us to consider the three parts of man - body, soul, and spirit. The body is made up of all we consider as being in contact with the environment around us - it is what we use to experience the sensations of sight, touch, sound, etc. We interact with our environment in and through our body. For example, your body crawls in between freshly laundered sheets and feels the coolness of those sheets against it, taking in the fresh smell of the laundry soap and softener. You are interacting with your body - not your soul or spirit.
The soul is made up of our mind, will, emotions - the things which help us to interact with reason, rational thought, choice, and responsiveness. It is also the place of our remembrances - the place where we lay up memories and recall them from time to time. The spirit actually "plays off of" these other two parts of our being. In other words, what we take in by our interactions through our senses, we form some kind of thought around, and this may trigger some sense of thankfulness, praise, worship, or connection with our Creator - God. If you have ever sat in the midst of the forest, listening to the sounds of the wind in the trees, observing the scurrying critters, and taking in the majesty of it all, you might have been elevated to a place of worship in your spirit.
Spirit elevates us - it brings us to new heights, taking us to new depths, and helps us to hold on when the climb seems too hard or the plunge seems too deep. The spirit is what helps us to "stabilize" in times of trial and keeps us on course in times of temptation. In the simplest sense, the spirit is a "rudder" directing us toward the good things God has for us to experience in life - even if they are buried deep within times of trial! A ship's rudder is small, but it directs the big ship with the greatest of ease - simply because it operates to do only one thing - to point or position the ship in the direction the ship is to be headed. Our spirit helps to point us in the direction we are to be headed, as well. As we commune with God in spirit, we get direction which our emotions, reason, rational thought, etc., cannot provide. Sure, they can suggest certain responses, but our spirit is where we find the assurance of faith and hope - something which keeps us going even when it gets tough.
So, a crushed spirit is something we cannot endure very long - for it robs us of hope, diminishes all steps we might normally take in faith, and in short, steers us in directions we'd normally not travel. This is why it is so important to continually allow our spirit to be renewed - in times of prayer, praise, worship, thanksgiving, etc. As we commune with God, we renew our spirit. It is raised again into places of hope and faith - re-energized for the journey ahead. Maybe it is time we move from periodic renewal to a constant "recharge" of our spirit! Then we might avoid the crash and burn of a crushed spirit! Just sayin!