Christians Are People
by Joel D. Todino, M.D.AS A PRACTICING PHYSICIAN in a moderate-sized Southern community, I am frequently asked to help people in a number of ways. Mainly, of course, it is with a large variety of health problems. But, it has been proven beyond all doubt that between forty and sixty percent of Medical" illnesses are either caused, or aggravated by, emotional stress. I'd like to share with the readers some of the techniques I use, which are not only helpful to my patients, but also to my own life.
Most doctors are "too busy" to spend much time talking to people. I decided a long time ago that I could not live with my own conscience if I merely treated people's symptoms. So I see fewer people. spend more time, and charge more each visit (that part at least fits with the stereotype!) but it does give me an opportunity to analyze symptoms more thoroughly and to meld my medical training with my Bible study.
When you boil down all the various reasons that people may be emotionally stressed, they can be: worry, fear, doubt, and guilt. The really interesting thing is that it has taken "medical science" many years to recognize these, and yet the principles are very clearly taught in the Bible. Psychologists have studied for years to come up with tests of psychological function and , when all is said and done, and the volumes of books have been read and studied, they still point out these same four basic problems which destroy happiness, contentment, and peace of mind. I can't get "lazy" on my Scriptures because I need them just about every day.
For example, not too long ago I saw a man suffering with headaches and stomach trouble. It would have been easy to write two prescriptions - one for headache and one for ulcers - ten minutes, twenty bucks, next case! I'm too curious for that, and discovered the basic causes of his distress (the details are not pertinent here). Typically, I tell the patient, "We have several choices. You can go on suffering. I can treat the symptoms. I can send you to a psychiatrist, or you can study a tried-and-true method of help based upon what God has revealed to us." I'm not sure of percentages, but I think that at least one-half of the people choose number four. Then I tell them about guilt, fear, doubt and worry and "plant the seed." Sometimes it sprouts and grows, and sometimes not. But the patient is usually, at least, thinking and gaining insight.
Look at the Bible for yourself. Isaiah 48:22 and 57:19-21 reveal that "there is no peace unto the wicked." The example of Judas' guilt is classical, leading to suicide. Even a modern (1960) psychiatrist, Dr. DeMoures, stated, "The patient's problems are moral, not medical. He suffers from real quilt, not guilt feelings. He is not a victim of his own conscience, but a violator of it."
Worry literally means "to strangle." Is it any wonder that people have choking spells, chest pain, shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing or other similar symptoms? The Bible tells us that worry chokes the word (Matthew 13:7,22), deceives and distracts (Luke 21:34), obstructs (Luke 14:18-20), hinders work (2 Timothy 2:4) and is a sign of unbelief (Matthew 6:25-32).
Fear is a consequence of disobedience (Deut 28:66). It can lead to a sense of defeat (Numbers 13:30-33) and even paralysis (Matthew 28:4). Doubt means to waver or fluctuate, or to be uncertain and James tells us that it is a sign of spiritual instability (James 1:6-8).
Now, the good part. All this can be cured! Better than heart trouble, diabetes, cancer or many other real medical killers. "How is it done?" You ask. Christianity applied. That's right. Put it to work! I don't have enough room here to spoon-feed you on this. I'll just tell you where to look and then you're on your own. The three things you need to apply Christianity are faith, prayer, and working for God. The following Scriptures point out how faith brings us peace, rest, freedom from the guilt of sin, and assurances that wipe worry away - Romans 5:1; Matthew 11:28; Acts 22:16 and 3:19; 2 Peter 1:4; and Hebrews 8:12. Then we see that prayer can help us achieve spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3), assures us of receiving them (1 John 3:22), helps us overcome anxiety (12 Peter 5:7) and also brings us peace, even if we don't understand it (Philippians 4:6). Finally, there is the joy of working for God - Ephesians 6:6-8 clearly gives us an idea of the value of this service, even to the point of denying ourselves (Luke 9:23 and Galatians 2:20).
Do you fear? Read Mark 4:40. Do you doubt? Read Matthew 14:31. Are you anxious? Read Matthew 6:30-31. John tells us that our hearts are not to be troubled and we are not to fear (John 14:27).
The knowledge I've gained in helping others has helped me and my family and, with God's help, will continue to guide us in the right path.