Pain, Meds and the Holy Spirit


No one is immune… everyone suffers.  Here are some ways… 

  • death of friends and family
  • physical injury
  • disease
  • divorce
  • neglect
  • abandonment
  • financial crisis
  • hunger
  • being fired
  • abuse
  • war
  • hunger
  • depression
  • ________________________ you name it

Lisa Terkheurst, in her book It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way, says pain has a way of getting our attention like nothing else.  When pain steamrolls over you or even camps out on your head, you have some choices:  ignore it, phone a friend, suffer in silence or go directly to God.  In this shallow dive into my brain, I’m going to question the wisdom of ignoring or medicating your pain.

“The longer we avoid the feeling, the more we delay our healing.”

p.85, It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way

WARNING:  What I’m about to say may stick like a red hot needle in your eye.  That’s not my intention, I promise.  This is my attempt in asking questions I have yet to fully resolve in my mind yet.  And I fully realize there are a few situations like schizophrenia that absolutely must be dealt with using medication.

The stats are alarming

According to some of the latest statistics, use of mood-altering drugs has quadrupled in the last 20 years.  As of 2018, as many as 25% are taking a psychiatric medication.  We appear to be becoming a culture that cannot handle life anymore with medicating ourselves.  We’re more connected than ever, yet more disconnected than ever.  Suicide rates have increased by 30% in the last 20 years.  In 2016, 45,000 people decided there could never be hope for a better day and they killed themselves.  Pain (from whatever source) can drive this kind of hopelessness unless it’s dealt with appropriately.

And we haven’t even talked about the people who use alcohol as a medicating / coping substance.  Or marijuana.  Or meth.  And I’m just not in the mood to do any homework on those numbers but you know they’re high.

My experience

In my friend group I’m noticing psychiatric drugs cause a reduction in elation during joyous moments / times and a reduction of depression in sad moments / times.  There’s a knocking off of the edges on both ends of the spectrum, leaving more monotone emotional state.

When my sons were prescribed ADHD meds, I noticed this same behavioral response at home under my own roof.  We adjusted the meds, trying to find a happy medium, but still I noticed a marked change in personality.  The highs and lows of life were gone.

How important is feeling pain?

My question is this:  If you can’t feel the raw and true pain of life, how can you respond appropriately?  How can you learn from it?  How can you grow?  If you ignore the warning light on your dashboard or just have the mechanic turn it off, as Terkheurst points out, you’re headed for a major breakdown.  And isn’t that what psychiatric medications are intended to do, to numb the pain, turn off the warning light?  These natural, God-given responses to life’s painful stimuli are meant to cause you to check under the hood of your life.  Something’s wrong here, people.

Another kind of pain… Holy Spirit conviction

When you’re under conviction by the Holy Spirit of God, how does that make you feel?  Lollipops and unicorns?  If you’re like me – it hurts.  That’s why it’s called conviction for heaven’s sake!  A “good” sermon is one that causes pain, but it’s the good kind of pain.  It’s the pain of freedom that comes when God has turned on the lights to reveal some of your sin to you.  No one likes that, but sometimes I refer to it as “hurting so good” because I feel and know it’s the beginning of healing;  sin has the greatest power in the dark, where it’s hidden… no one knows.  Liberation begins when Someone breaks the chains holding us in slavery.

But how will you feel the pain of conviction if you’re medicating it?

“The longer we avoid the feeling, the more we delay our healing.”

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