It will no doubt grieve you to hear that I have recently had a bout of man-flu.
Yes it is a thing.
Such suffering can give ear to spiritual truths hitherto unknown to the soul. Ok, fine, I’ll drop the joke, but not the lesson.
Here’s the lesson: I have given up on cold-and-flu tablets, which are essentially panadol (paracetamol if you’re not reading this in Oz) in a blue packet anyway. I have given up this treatment in favour of something much much harder to swallow; triple strength garlic and horseradish tablets. Yick.
It’s a simple discovery: though the cold and flu tabs offer immediate relief, they actually do nothing to fight the root cause of the said illness. On the other hand, garlic and horseradish offers no immediate relief but they actually help the body recover resulting in a shorter and less severe ailment.
“But Peter, why didn’t you just take both at the same time?”……to you I say…. Shhhhoooshh, just go with me on this.
I feel that the idols that we run to are like the cold and flu tabs. It is so tempting when we notice a spiritual issue, to simply run into the hands of an idol distration because it seems to offer immediate relief through distraction. But the problem is that sooner or later.. well, symptoms persist.
Not only do the symptoms persist, but the more you do something the better you get at it, and unfortunately that includes ignoring God. In the same way that people become addicted to pain killers, you can get addicted to idols. One of the traits of addiction of course, is that everything becomes about the next fix and when it does there’s no talking sense into anyone.
Thus you can prevent a lot of spiritual illness by making sure you get the garlic-tab of the Word of God, daily. The challenge of course is when you do go through a spiritual trial, to not immediately reach for the panadol of distraction but what we really need; the garlic and horseradish of Scripture.
But serious study of the Word of God isn’t as ‘tempting’ precisely because we are not in control of it. It is his Word, and he decides if and when to reveal himself through it. Thus it isn’t like some light switch that we can just switch on but rather something that requires patience and dedication as God watches to see how serious we are about hearing from him.
In the very moment we want immediate relief, God makes us wait. Because it is in the waiting that faith is built. We want immediate relief but the the only thing that addresses the core of our illness is the very thing that takes time to take root and do it’s work; the word of God.
It can be hard to swallow sometimes, but reach for the garlic of God’s word of over the panadol of distraction every time.