I had this pain which seemed to persist for some time. I had tried several “old wives'” remedies, but none of them had seemed to work. I went to my doctor and he took one look and, it seemed, the look on his face said “that’s easy fixed!” He promptly wrote me out a prescription which I took to the pharmacy and had filled. Within a few days, with the help of the correct medicine, the pain disappeared.
Too often I see people who are struggling in one area of their life who have the idea that they can go to the Bible for a “prescription”–a spiritual drug that, when rubbed into the offending spot, will provide a cure.
Many times these people queue in the hallways of pastors and spiritual counselors with their list of ailments, seeking that quick fix–that magical formula–that will remove the sin, guilt, shame, hurt, scar, disease. They seek prescriptive answers to every question in life:
- What should I tell my daughter about sex?
- How much should I limit my son’s exposure to video games?
- How can I stop thinking about what he did to me?
- What can I do about the emotional abuse I am enduring?
- How can I be a good husband and father?
- What can I say to my child who is questioning God?
- How can I be a “good Christian”?
We all want quick fixes, easy answers, miracle cures. We all want that magical formula which, when applied to our wound, will instantly take away all pain and all scars. Or perhaps we want a “daily multi” that will prevent pain from encroaching into our life.
And we think a person with the right understanding of God’s truth can give that to us.
Are we deluding ourselves?
There is definitely a place for wise spiritual counsel. Many times God uses a well-thought word from someone we respect to guide us in a better path. Once in a while we may even find these words of counsel in the Bible. The Bible indeed does address some issues we may face, but it is not a pill we can take or an ointment we can rub on our ailing limbs to fix the tissue damage.
Truth is, there is no quick fix.
Sometimes our answers come in the long a painful journey itself. Sometimes the healing comes in the form of grace-filled deeds of kindness or uplifting words from a friend. Often, we find our victory after years of struggle, and in spite of seemingly good advice.
Once in a while we find that life itself is the answer, that the questions we ask resolve themselves as we grow, learn, re-focus and re-calibrate on our journey.
And once in a while we find that there are no answers but, instead, an increasing number of questions.
I find myself in that place frequently.
I know, in my experience, I need to become a better “holder of tension;” I need to learn how to keep traveling with unresolution and uncertainty. After all, this is what life is all about. The answers (e.g. “42” for the HHGTTG fans among you) come after a long pilgrimage and many adventures, and, when they do eventually fall on our ears, we don’t always hear them . . . or understand what they mean, for us.
It is said that one who spends all his days in the doctor’s office, seeking one drug after another, may find, in the end, that the prescriptions cause more harm than good because, in attempting to cleanse the unhealthiness from our bodies, they also wash away some of the inherent immunity and healthy bacteria that we need to survive.
Could it be that this is the way it works in our spirituality as well?
Let me leave you with that question.