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! 😉 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.”
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.
- Found a great article at Reformation Theology about depression and the Christian