It’s a condition that I have had for many years now.
I am prone to develop infections in my colon that can be extremely painful. It has put me in the hospital in the past, and I have come to recognize the feeling in my body when it’s beginning. I usually have to fight a sense of panic that wants to take over. That is when I scramble to come up with the best treatment, which in the past was always antibiotics, preceded by a frantic call to my doctor begging for a prescription. But in recent years, those pills that always promised healing, have made me feel just as bad as the sickness.
What was I to do?
My condition is called diverticulosis. And when an infection develops, it’s then known as diverticulitis. I finally came to the conclusion that through increased fiber intake with water, probiotics, and a lot of prayer, I could avoid the antibiotics. And it has worked for the past few years.
But what’s my point in detailing my intestinal health? Only that when I’m in pain, I look for relief — usually whatever I believe will provide it the quickest. And sometimes what I imagine to be a cure can be as bad, if not worse, than the disease from which I am seeking freedom. And I don’t think I’m alone in this.
Discomfort of the soul stirs similar desires and tendencies within me. I don’t like feeling bad, whether it be sadness, guilt, inadequacy, or boredom. However, I typically do not naturally seek to understand where the internal uneasiness comes from. I just want relief. So, I reach for the nearest remedy that will dull or cover up the distress. Thus the self-medication I apply to my soul or psyche rarely, if ever, solves anything. It either merely prolongs the uncomfortable feelings, once my quick fix wears off, or it leaves me feeling worse with increased sadness, guilt, or confusion.
Just like with physical pain, our emotional discomfort, or sickness of the heart, is rooted in something a bit deeper than the surface symptoms indicate. And like a good doctor seeking to diagnose a physical malady, we need to identify the core problem if we want to experience true healing. But for some reason many of us don’t pursue internal wholeness. We just want to stop hurting. “Make me feel better now!” It is this short-term mindset with our souls that leads us into the various kinds of self-medicating and addictive habits that at best don’t really help. And at worst, they enslave us.
It Can Be Almost Anything
Porn is the growing drug of choice for so many these days. What used to be overwhelmingly a male issue is now shared with females as they seek to dull some internal ache, confusion, or fear. With its easy online access, its diminishing negative social stigma, and its intensely addictive nature, it is no wonder that internet porn is one of the primary soul desensitizers in use today.
Of course there are many others that we turn to. Along with the chemical ones — assorted drugs, pills, alcohol, and all the different forms of cannabis — there is shopping, gaming, romance, food, exercise, as well as watching sports. And for the spiritually inclined there is always those intense religious activities to dull the misery. Today, almost any activity or substance can be used as a reality-numbing narcotic.
Is There a Better Way?
The Apostle Paul told the followers of Jesus in the Greek city of Corinth the following:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV).
God promises to be our Comforter. But too often we don’t invite Him in to do what He has promised. Or we demand that He comfort us according to how we dictate it should be done. Many times there’s stuff in the way, like sin we’re holding onto, unforgiveness, the demand to be in control, or just plain unbelief in His goodness to provide what we truly need. And rather than looking honestly at the roots of our hurts and confusion, we go to the cupboard of self-reliance and select our own elixir of choice to medicate the symptoms.
But on our own that’s all we do . . . temporarily numb the symptoms.
Just as I have found other ways, rather than antibiotics, to better address my intestinal woes, God has His way of soothing the afflictions of our souls. We just have to let Him show us what the real problem is so that we can then invite Him to be the source of our comfort. And the promise is that we too will then be able to pass this comfort along to others in need.
No more of the fake stuff.
We want true and lasting comfort.
Jeff, You always do a great job on these posts. Keep it up!
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