Spurgeon describes a crushed spirit happens when someone is under a deep and terrible sense of sin. He says that no one can bear it when guilt comes clearly home and God is seen as just and perfectly holy. The crushing comes when a person realizes that He who is infinite love and almighty grace has been provoked and angered, and the One who is supposed to be our best friend has become our most terrible foe.
A man’s spirit will endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear? (Proverbs 18:14)
Spurgeon hopes that his readers do not understand what this means, but knows that some do. This kind of crushing is unbearable and like hell on earth. No one can avoid feeling crushed when the sense of being close to God is gone and that abiding presence is replaced by the pain of deep conviction.
What brings this deep conviction? Spurgeon says it can happen because of fierce temptation. If Satan tempts me to doubt, sin, blasphemy, even to “curse God and die” as he tried with Job, my spirit can be crushed if I fall under that terrible power. I will sense that God’s face is hidden if my choice is to not walk away from such temptation but give into it. Then, in the absence of my God’s sustaining presence, I am crushed.
Spurgeon speaks of those who get wild and untrue ideas, happily sailing above others, looking down on anyone who does not think the same way. Then, when their balloon bursts, they come down from that height and realize their error. They condemn themselves and become distressed and miserable. Their spirit is crushed and the only cure is to return to a humble walk with God.
As I read this preacher’s thoughts, and examine how God deals with me, I agree that a crushed spirit may happen, and that it is unbearable. I am also glad that this can be avoided, and if not, there is restoration in Jesus. Those who are willing to stay near Him and consider themselves always poor, needy and helpless sinners will always find everything they need in Jesus Christ. He gives strength against temptation and sin. He also restores sinners should we fail to stand the tests.
I’ve been there and know that I cannot bear a crushed spirit. But He did it for me, then declared, “It is finished” and now lives in me to give me everything I need.