Primum non nocere. First, do no harm. Although this famous line is incorrectly attributed to the Hippocratic Oath of ancient Greece, it does accurately reflect a part of this famous pledge as follows: “I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgment, but never with a view to injury and wrong-doing.” Call it a catchy paraphrase. The strict notion of do no harm, however, becomes a moot point when the surgeon applies scalpel to flesh, slicing through dermis, blood vessels, and muscles, in order to remove some malignancy causing even greater harm to the body. In that moment, the surgeon is inflicting a wound upon the recipient, and a scar will remain as evidence. The life may be saved by the necessary act of rending flesh, justifying the action for the sake of a long-term view. The goal, of course, is to make the person whole.
This limited analogy has a direct correlation to wounds of the soul. The patient with a tumor will readily seek the aid of a skilled surgeon, agreeing to receive a wound in order to remove a more grievous ailment. Soul wounds, however, are ignored, suppressed, misdiagnosed, and treated to a host of ineffective solutions. The fallen state of man guarantees that all of humanity will experience soul wounds, most of which will be inflicted by other broken people. Once the surgeon removes the tumor and stitches the wound he inflicted, the patient will begin to mend by virtue of how the human body was designed. This same principle applies to soul wounds. The person must endure a rending that reveals the malignancy within, then sustain the pain of having it cut away before the spirit can begin to heal.
Proverbs 18:14 states, “The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?” Stories of people remaining cheerful and optimistic in spite of physical ailments have been told since stories were first recorded. But what of the broken in spirit? If a man’s spirit can endure sickness, why is the reverse not true? At this point in the discussion, people will point to the therapeutic benefits of a nature walk or massage. They may point to the large self-help section at the local bookstore that didn’t exist a half-century ago. Those are as effective for a long term solution as the phrase “physician, heal thyself!” How does a wounded spirit receive healing? It starts the same way as the surgeon performing surgery: consent on the part of the patient.
Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Then several chapters later in Psalm 147:3, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Instead of sharpened surgical steel, He might use the inspired lyrics from a song, the words of a godly confidant, or even a reflective moment of silence. The only sustainable, promised remedy for the wounded spirit is the cure found in the promises of Holy Scripture. It requires your consent. It hurts. It really does. It will even leave a scar as proof that you have been made whole. But spirit can only be mended by Spirit.