Spiritual illness

Published 6:11 pm Friday, May 6, 2011

“The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”

Have you heard this verse before?

Almost everyone has I think. You can find it in the words of Jesus (Matthew 26:41). These words are found in relation to the events of the last week, leading up to the death of Jesus on the cross. Certainly there was no more earnest time in His ministry. To me, these words tell me that spiritual health proceeds physical health.

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It has been a long time since Jesus walked this earth; around 2,000 years in fact. What He said was so valid and real though, that we find His message alive today. Oftentimes, the flesh is weak because it is distant from the spirit.

On a daily basis, through my patients, I deal with pain, suffering, loss, disappointment, discouragement and grief. I also deal with boatloads of guilt. It can be quite burdening for me as I go through some days. I frequently contemplate His guidance as I progress along. Sharing the burdens is part of how I minister to my patients. I wish I had the quick solutions to challenges that we all are striving to find.

Jesus, the Bible tells us, came because we needed a Savior. Paul, in Romans 3:23, reveals to us that, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Because of our sinfulness and the sinfulness of this world, there is much pain here. We will never find an escape from the pain while we are of this world. We have to strive for the times of peace through spiritual healing, praying that “His will be done here as it is in heaven.”

What we have to do is maintain our perspective and priorities. My priorities should be God first, family second, others third and self fourth. I say that is what they should be. Keeping them in order is a daily challenge for me. My calling is to be a Godly physician and to share my talents and blessings with others, in and out of the office. We all have a calling to serve Him in one or many ways.

Why do I say all this in a “medical” article?

Well, it is because much of the need for healing that I deal with daily involves matters of the heart. I think confusion over our priorities is the root of much additional suffering. You may have noticed in my priorities list that acquisition of material goods and wealth was not mentioned. Comfort and safety for my family are indeed important for me. I feel I am a steward of those blessing that have enriched my life, but I am misleading myself if I feel I can totally control their futures. I must turn them over into God’s hands first.

The way I view it, we live in a world that we are allowing to drive us crazy and off the direction of our priorities. This crush of materialism that we seem to hold up as our standard of success is ruining families. We have allowed ourselves to spend to the edge of our capability to pay, or even past it. Many have found that this up-to-the-edge strategy left them uncomfortably over the cliff during the economic downturn. Those of us who have not lost a vehicle, or a house, or a relationship during the last few years, may be very fortunate, but we have still felt the pain. It has been prevalent. Many of us got into situations where we have had to pedal so fast to keep going that we stay on the verge of collapse. If it is not a downturn in the economy, it may be an unexpected bill, it may be an illness, it may be a miscarriage, it may be loss of a job we had planned to keep, the shadow over a future we had pictured, or it may be the declining illness of a parent. Any of these occurrences maybe more that we can handle by just continuing to pedal the same old way.

I think a common fault we share is our failing to take time for planning, reflection and spiritual enrichment. Most of the time when I ask my patients, “When was the last time you took a vacation,” the answer is “I can’t remember.”

When I ask them, “What did you do for fun over the weekend,” the most common response I get is “Work.”

My advice is multifold: First, ponder your priorities, remember them frequently and assess your life by that light.

Second, if you are contemplating buying a TV, boat, car, house or any large purchase, back off first. Can you get by with a cheaper approach that won’t strain you budget? Less angst at bill paying time each month is a good thing!

Third, my priorities center around relationships and I bet yours do as well. Are you spending time in conversation and nurturing, or are you “too busy”? Maybe you need to reassess your need for “wealth,” “prosperity” and “success” as well as redefine what those terms mean to you.

Finally, my fourth piece of advice. We all need to work on our spiritual growth and our talks with our God. I am dependent on the renewal I find in the reading of His word and the thoughts and prayers I share with my Christian brothers. The encouragement I find in shared relationships helps me find the joy to rise above the pain. Therefore, I work on ordering my life so that each week I encounter different groups of Christian friends. And my greatest encouragement is found in these words of Jesus, “in this world you will have much pain, but take heart, I have overcome this world.”

If you work on making your spirit “willing,” it may help make your flesh stronger to meet the challenges. We’ll talk more about that next time.

For more information or to view more articles written by Dr. Don Robinson, go to his Web site at www.brgyn.com.