Dr. Victoria Moots
What is osteoporosis? I am going to answer that question by first discussing the physical condition and its consequences and then applying that to the spiritual body with examples from scripture. Osteoporosis is a word composed of 2 parts: “Osteo” meaning “bone” and “porosis” meaning “porous or full of holes.” Osteoporosis occurs when the body’s bony skeleton loses calcium stored as bone, faster than it can be replaced and is most common in the spine, hips and wrists. As a result, the bones become weak and fragile and are easily fractured even from minor trauma such as coughing, bending over or a low impact fall from a standing height. If severe enough, one can even fracture a hip from bearing the weight of their own body when walking.
With time, if the osteoporosis is not treated, a person may begin developing a curvature in the upper back called a “Dowager’s Hump,” as the spine actually collapses from the mere pull of gravity. Eventually the person is no longer able to walk upright. This has a spiritual meaning which I will discuss shortly.
If you are older than age 50 you have a 50% chance of a fracture in your lifetime. Bone loss begins around age 30 and declines most rapidly in women after menopause or a hysterectomy. Approximately 8 million women have osteoporosis and 2.2 million are at risk. Men also can develop osteoporosis, but it is not as common until they are older. The annual cost burden for osteoporosis and subsequent fractures is greater than 14 billion dollars in the United States alone.
The Bible records a text book picture of osteoporosis in Luke 13:11-13, “…and behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.; And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity; And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.” The woman in the story obviously had severe osteoporosis with multiple compression fractures of the spine and had to walk bent over with a cane as she was unable to walk upright. But Jesus spoke the word and she was able to stand up straight.
Spiritual osteoporosis is evident when a person is unable to walk uprightly or stand against the wiles of the devil (Eph. 6:11). But there is no reason to despair, as there is healing available for us just as it was for that woman through the Word if we hear it and obey it and yield to the touch of the hand of the Lord. Likewise, there are treatments and preventive measures for physical osteoporosis. But in order to better understand the causes and treatment, let us first examine the process by which bone is formed in the human body.
Ecclesiastes 11:5 states, “…. the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child:” This is a medically accurate statement as the gestational age of a baby in utero is determined by a sonogram which measures bone length. The length of the femur (thigh bone) gives a close estimate of the baby’s age. Bones start out as cartilage which forms the skeleton. Then as the fetus grows, calcium, phosphorous and magnesium in the proper proportions are deposited along this cartilaginous matrix. The deposition of minerals begins in the middle of the bones and proceeds towards the ends. At the ends of the bones are located the growth plates which remain as cartilage until a child reaches full stature and then they calcify. At this point growth ceases.
Bone is a living tissue that can repair itself easily, especially when we are young, if it has adequate building materials, such as vitamin D, calcium and appropriate signals from the body to start the process. The regulation of this process is very complex and involves the interaction of hormones from the parathyroid and thyroid glands as well as kidneys and various other hormones in the body which activate the bone cells. Bone has 2 types of cells, those that build up (osteoblasts) and those that tear down (osteoclasts).
Bone structure is not solid like cement. If it were you would be too heavy to walk. It is similar to lattice work with crisscrossing girders of bone that stabilize and support each other like the undergirding of a bridge. In like manner, bone requires regular maintenance to remain strong or it will collapse.
Bones increase in density until around age 30 as the body deposits more calcium to make the girders thicker and stronger. When osteoporosis develops, these girders become thinner and weaker and some of them collapse. The density, or strength of a bone can be measured with a special type of x-ray called a Dexa Scan.
In the Bible there are multiple references relating to diseased bones which are applicable to the soul as well as the body. In Psalm 6:2 David states, “…my bones are vexed.” Proverbs 12:4 refers to “rottenness of bones.”
What are some of the things in our lives that can affect us spiritually and tear us down causing us to be unable to stand against Satan (i.e. spiritual rottenness of bones)? Pride, self-pity, self-consciousness, self-works – all these take our eyes off Jesus and on to self.
Proverbs 16:18 declares that pride goes before a fall. If you have severe osteoporosis your hip can break before you fall just from standing or walking. Pride, like osteoporosis can result in an unexpected fall. Pride in our own works or accomplishments lifts up self instead of Christ and weakens us spiritually. Our true standing before God is only in the work of Calvary wrought by Christ when He died for our sins.
I Corinthians 10:12 warns us, “…let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” We cannot stand in our own strength. We must know that we stand in His grace alone (Rom. 5:1,2) and His might (Eph. 6:10,11) and not just think that we stand.
Jesus had strong bones. He was in the prime of His life, early 30’s, the age at which bone density reaches its maximum. Satan was unable to break His bones or make Him fall. In Exodus 12:46, Israel was specifically commanded regarding the Passover lamb that no bones should be broken. Psalm 34:20 is a prophecy concerning Jesus stating, “He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.” This was fulfilled in John 19:33,36 stating, “They broke not his legs; That the scripture might be fulfilled, a bone of him shall not be broken.” If we have the life of Christ in us, and we appropriate and lay hold of that truth, then we will also be able to stand against Satan without fear of falling as in Eph. 6:11. Therefore Satan has no power to break our spiritual legs either.