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Symptom Suppressants

Tom Head ShotI heard this the other day, “Do you know the difference between a doctor and God?  God doesn’t think He is a doctor.”

I know that I am not a doctor either, but I do have observations of health that have shaped my personal practice.  One is that I avoid symptom suppressants.  Because our society is so pleasure obsessed and therefore pain adverse, there are a lot of over the counter medicines simply promising the reduction of negative symptoms due to illness.  While coughing, sneezing, vomiting, and runny noses are terribly uncomfortable and can hinder one’s life, they are the vehicles God designed in our bodies to get rid of negative influences.  My observation is that to limit that process only causes one to suffer longer with the illness as well as risk secondary infections due to the germ remaining in the body longer than God designed.

Therefore I try to avoid all symptom reducing medicines believing that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” by God, and that His process, while painful at the time, will yield His intended result.

I believe that this principle holds in the spiritual and psychological realm also.  Suppressing negative emotions such as grief, guilt, and anger will yield longer term emotional illnesses and potentially secondary afflictions such as depression and resentment.  Again, because we are in a pain adverse culture, we are quickly prescribed medications that reduce our symptoms and therefore cause us not to address the core issues of guilt or shame or grief and so on.

The beauty of God’s design is that instead of turning to modern medicine for symptom reducing medications, God has a plan to resolve these issues.  God suggests that if we have an interpersonal conflict with someone we should go to them and work it out immediately (Matthew 5:23, 24; Matthew 18:15-20).  God also gives us an avenue to resolve internal struggles.  I John says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1:9).  So confession to God is His answer, not medications to suppress your guilt.  He also states in James 5:16, “ Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed,  The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”  There is great, divine healing in confession to each other.

God has also established a regular opportunity for His people to evaluate themselves in the Lord’s Supper.  In I Corinthians 11:28-30, “Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat the bread and drink of the cup.  For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.  That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.”  The spiritual and physical maladies that are caused by unconfessed sins are enormous.

So let us not chase symptom reducing practices of denial, blame, and excuse making, but instead confession that we too may be healed!

Tom Reynolds