Doped up…

Pills
I’m sure to get some flack from this, but it’s been on my mind for a while. I stumbled across Al Mohler’s blog entry today called, “Are We Mere Chemicals? Happiness as a Prescription.” I encourage you to read it and the findings there. However, let me jump off the high dive here and hope there’s water in the pool.

Our society is over-medicated. No one can dispute that. Unfortunately, no one wants to deal with it, especially if it affects them personally. Me? I’m probably on the other end of the spectrum. I refuse to take an Advil unless someone else can hear the pounding in my head. When it becomes a matter of “disturbing the peace,” I pop a pill to avoid a ticket. (Now if only the bozo’s who drive by my house late at night with their bass up and their woofers thumping would abide by that as well!)

But here’s the deal… I think there are bunches (my technical term for an embarrassing amount) of people who are popping pills that have actually been prescribed for them for things ranging from depression to mood swings to anxiety to sleeplessness to… Well, you get my drift. Far be it from me to point out that most doctors receive incentives from pharmacuetical companies to promote their products. And practically speaking… you’re a doctor. A patient comes in. You have to see them. They describe symptoms that you know full well don’t have to be treated by meds but can be. You also know full well that meds won’t address the long-term problem or deeper issues going on inside. But you don’t have time to truly “fix” this patient. Nor do you want the headache caused by an angry patient who thinks they need meds when you tell them they just need to get a grip.

So it’s a terrible Catch-22.

But here’s the deal for Christ-followers… We are told to “trust in the Lord with all our hearts and to not lean on our own understanding.” (Proverbs 3.5) And just a few verses later, in verse 8, we’re told as a result of this trust… “This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” In fact, it is very apparent in Scripture that God is in the healing business. Consider these:

We also know that one of the primary ministries of Jesus was a healing ministry. The apostles demonstrated this focus as well.

In a recent comment on Richard’s blog, I said…

At a conference in CA last year, I got to listen to a former OBU grad who’s now working with the SBC International Mission Board as an underground church consultant in China… Heavy stuff. But he shared first-hand accounts of healings and people being raised from the dead. It’s happening on the mission fields of the world all the time, particularly among unreached people groups. Don’t discount the power of God to do what it takes to bring credence to His Word and to His people’s witness for Christ.

God ain’t dead, and neither are we! πŸ˜‰ I understand your perspective and struggle with the lack of powerful signs sometimes surrounding my own life and ministry. However, it may be more due to our lack of faith in God than in what God is no longer doing. Remember Matthew 13.58… “And He did not do many miracles there [his hometown] because of their lack of faith.”

Doctorpill
My point being only that perhaps we turn to medicine before we turn to God. Then in the church, we wonder why we don’t see more of God’s miraculous interventions with our worries, our health, our anxieties, depressions and problems. I would say it’s because we have not trusted Him with them. We have sought our only solutions. Rather than to struggle with God and overcome (Genesis 32.28), we want a fix now. Even if it costs us money and erodes our souls. (Deep down, I think that many on meds know that they don’t need them and suffer spiritually as a result.)

Lest you think I’m jumping on Tom Cruise’s Scientology cruise (or for that matter diehard Christian Scientists), slap yourself twice and then keep reading… I’m not saying that you should never resort to medicine. I’m saying that because people are emotionally and spiritually lazy that many times we’ll turn away from God to solve our problems. Yet He is loving, caring, and desiring that we come to Him.

Modern (or postmodern) people cannot fathom the reality of unhappiness. And that’s the foundational issue. People want to feel good and be happy! Darnit. And nobody should get in my way of doing so! So if these meds make me feel good or be happy… then so be it. The truth is that we were never promised “happiness” in this life. We ARE promised joy, peace, and contentment. Yet all three of these amazing life conditions can exist in the middle of suffering, unhappiness, and unpleasantness. The apostle Paul said in Philippians 4.12-14,

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. (italics mine)

You see, the incredible verse 13 that is quoted by so many out of context – I can do everything through him who gives me strength. – actually comes in the middle of Paul’s point about contentment. It’s possible when things aren’t great… because of Christ. It goes back to trusting in the Lord at all times, apart from our own understanding.

Nuff said for now. I’m sure you’re sick of this entry. Especially if it’s time to take your next pill.

πŸ˜‰

Update: (6/10/06)

On this day...

11 comments

  1. Jeff says:
    I noticed that too, Chef. Maybe they’re sick more since they’re the weaker sex?

    Just kidding, Carolyn. Really….

    I’ll, uh, go wash the dishes or something…

  2. chefpierre says:
    Why is it just the fem-bots that see the need to post on this issue?

    (A coming global firespericy?)

  3. Jeff says:
    I think our society is biblically uninformed about “depression.” We are fast to rely on the research of Freud and others that proclaim chemical imbalance and the like and slow to turn to God’s Word. Throughout Scripture, there were certainly people who were “depressed.” Yet they didn’t have medication and they survived. The Psalms are full of honest, heartfelt cries to God from the midst of low times. Job himself, if anyone ever did, certainly struggled with “depression.” Yet he said, “Shall we accept good from the Lord and not adversity?” (Job 2.10)

    There is a ton of conflicting evidence regarding current treatment of depression which advocates anti-depressants like Zoloft and Prozac. People who are struggling should do their research.

    Here’s an interesting site from a decidedly anti-anti-depressant standpoint:
    ? Psychology Debunked Also, take a look at their news page. It’s frightening to consider the effects that anti-depressants can have on babies when their mothers have been on them.
    ? This page contains some helpful advice and also gives a link for those struggling with deep depression.
    ? Another interesting article is “Job on Prozac”

    Again, let me reiterate that I am not opposed to medication or condemning those suffering from depression. I am, however, saying that our American mindset thinks we can “fix” everything, and that is not a proper biblical perspective. Unfortunately, I do think the vast majority of people on anti-depressants today probably do not need to be.

  4. Mandy says:
    I agree… just wanted to make sure that we’re all in agreement that depression is also a very real physical illness with serious consequences.. and depression is not the same as being in a bad mood that will just lift when your circumstances get better. I know so many people feel horrible about taking antidepressants that they really do need because they also think if they were just more spiritual that they could work through it. Perhaps that is true.. who’s to say? But I do know that depression is often caused by chemical imbalances and hormonal problems that meds do help with. But yes, if ppl are taking pills to get over a bad time, rather than deal with it, that is probably going to land them in long term depression and dependance on meds. But just wanted to throw out there that, at least the handful of ppl I know on meds for depression, it is not circumstantial.. it is a real illness that they suffer with.
  5. dawn Reed says:
    We are a pill popping society. I agree with Mandy. Thank Heaven for Meds. I know that we are all overmedicated. I remember the doctor putting me on Prozac when I was going through some depression in college….My uncle is also a doctor was furious when he found out I was on Prozac. He said that I was just in a down mood and it would pass. He was right. I hope that in my profession I can be there for people to talk it out and resort to Meds as a last resort not a first and only solution.

    Great entry!

  6. Jeff says:
    Mandy,
    I agree with you. Like I said (or hoped I said) in the entry, “I’m not saying that you shouldn’t resort to medicine.” Heck, my wife has had Hodgkin’s Disease (cancer of the lymph nodes) 3 different times, and EACH time we took advantage of chemotherapy and radiation. It was a real illness with drastic physical consequences. I do believe that God has gifted us with doctors and medicines. The Gospeller Luke was a physician!

    But what I was saying is that there are waaaaay too many folks using meds for inappropriate reasons, many of them believers in Christ. It’s far too easy to turn to Zoloft or Prozac for a fix for your feelings and moods than to fast, pray, and seek God’s face for understanding, perseverance and peace.

  7. Mandy says:
    I agree somewhat, but I do think that many of the modern medicines we so thankfully have today might be God’s will for us. So many people would suffer needlessly if it were not for antidepressants. So many women kill their children for fear of ridicule if they DO seek the medical help they need and end up on medication. So many marriages end because someone has a chemical imbalance that meds could help with. So many people die because they souly trust in the Lord to heal, and refuse to seek medical attention for fear of being unfaithful or untrusting of God. Does God heal? YES! Is God’s only way to heal through prayer? NO! I’m not a “pill popper”… I too don’t take Tylenol for headaches b/c I can tough them out. But I think most people on medication are on them b/c they do need them. Would more prayer and less meds be a fabulous thing? Yes… but I think it’s ‘almost’ a bit judgemental to assume everyone is overdoing medication just because there are so many medicines available now. Sure, it seems silly to many people that you would need something for a bladder disorder, unless YOU have it. How funny are those ED commercials? Not at all I’m sure if you suffer with the disorder. I think the antidepressants are probably widely overused and over prescribed… but for the MANY people who truly need them, PRAISE THE LORD for them. Not to be the oddball.. but wanted to put my two cents in.
  8. Jeff says:
    Wow!! Jill and Angela, you gals are much more observant than me from a practical standpoint. Thanks for contributing!

    So what do you guys think is a solution(s)? From a medical standpoint and also from a Christian/church standpoint? Throw out (just not up) some thoughts on that.

  9. jill says:
    you’d think i’d disagree with you, seeing as how medications is our livelihood. but i don’t, and i’m sure josh wouldn’t either. what i’ve found most in several churches, are people on anti-anxiety or anti-depressants after experiencing a traumatic event. For some reason, people are afraid to FEEL anymore. they don’t want to experience the pain of loss of any degree, thus they miss out on the healing the Lord can bring, and the lessons learned as a result.
  10. Angela W says:
    Jeff, I agree with you. A large part of the medical profession agrees with you! The only problem is, is trying to get people to be responsible for their own health! Blood pressure high, well then cut down on the salt and loose a little weight. Cholestrol high, cut down don’t just take pills that in the end can destroy your liver or kidney’s. I am not a pill popper and it amazes me to see the long list of medications that is on each patients charts. We need to take responsibility! Who is ready?

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