A Hard Pill to Swallow

September 2nd, 2008

Focus Text: Proverbs 3: 7 (NLT)

7 Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.
      Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
 8 Then you will have healing for your body
      and strength for your bones.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

As you probably noticed, I took a break from “threading” yesterday to celebrate Labor Day with my family.  I hope you are all rested and ready for another week of intrigue and adventure through The Daily Thread (or at least ready to roll your eyes at my ridiculousness.)

In the course of my weekend respite, I actually watched some television in between feedings, diaper changes, and extended efforts to convince Sadie to smile at me (she’ll only smile for Mommy right now– it’s a conspiracy.)  Daytime television is almost completely unentertaining.  Unless you’re interested in home improvement shows, cheesy soap operas, or trashy talk shows where the guests’ combined tooth count is less than my six-week old’s, daytime programming is pretty much a bust.  However, one lone feature did at least amuse me and it wasn’t a show at all; it was a series of commercials.

You’ve no doubt seen them.  They pander to people who are discontented with their physiques and who are desperate for a body-image upgrade.  They are diet pill commercials.

The most comical of these advertisements actually mimics the abundance of pharmaceutical commercials that promote products like Claritin or Nexium.  You know the ones I’m talking about, right?  Sometimes they have animated characters or overdramatic actors who playfully frolic through fields of wheat or ride carefree on bikes through drug utopia with their spouses.  They spout an unbelievably long list of side effects that might occur if one takes their drug. These lists usually sound much worse than the conditions that people are taking the medication for.  

Take this pill for indigestion . . . side effects may include: nausea, abdominal bleeding, spontaneous urination, degenerative bone decay, life-altering headaches, involuntary bouts of rage, delusions of grandeur, random acts of defiance toward parking attendants and meter maids, the misconception that one can take flight without boarding an airplane, and in rare cases . . . a lack of indigestion.

Anyhoo, this particular diet pill company designed its commercial to look like a legitimate drug; they even had an actual physician recommending their product (mind you, he looks as if he just received his medical license from the internet like two days ago, right after he graduated from middle school.)  The “before and after” images that they flash across the screen are of flabby, unhappy-looking individuals on the left and cut, unnaturally inflated individuals on the right.  I theorize that half of the transformation in those “before and after” photos are simply the result of the person smiling, going to the tanning bed, and appearing to now possess a will to live.  But I digress.

The crux of my observation was the phrase that the spokesperson used.  She actually said these words, “Take this pill and do nothing else.”  

What?!  Does anyone else here think that this philosophy of fitness is a little . . . well, off.  If you really think that you can sit down, suck back a sleeve of Oreos and chase it with a “venti” Frappacino and expect to lose weight by just taking a little pill, then you may be missing the point of fitness.  But our culture promotes the idea that fitness, health, and weight loss can be mysteriously manipulated outside of hard work or self-control.  Give me a pill or a miracle drug, but don’t ask me to do a crunch or downsize my heaping serving bowl of mashed potatoes.  

“But hey,” we say to ourselves, “I know that my doctor, my health teacher, every book I’ve read, and conventional wisdom say that I should change my eating habits and exercise; but I know something they don’t know.  This pill will do nicely.”

Bottom line is, there are no quick fixes to physical health.  The answer to fitness is simple.  However, it is not easy.  The second truth of this illustration is that our own opinion can be– and is often– wrong.  You can hope all day long that orange-flavored Cool-Aid will give you the same amount of Vitamin C as a glass of orange juice, but it just isn’t so.  No matter how hard I try, french fries will never count as a vegetable serving for day.  In these cases, being blindly confident in our own unmerited wisdom is detrimental to our health.

These verses speak of the dangers of being “impressed with your own wisdom.”  It’s like Solomon is saying to us, “Hey, getting somewhere in life is going to take more than a little pill . . . no matter how hopeful you may be.  Don’t trust yourself; trust someone who knows.”  Hence the next directive: “Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.”  Well, that doesn’t sound very catchy.  In fact, it sounds so . . . simple.   Remember: simple doesn’t mean easy.  Crunches are simple, but not easy.

Garnering wisdom and success in life is a long-term, often tedious process.  It will require us to dismiss our own wisdom in favor of the more difficult, more humbling route of exercising self-control and seeking the guidance of the One who knows this game better than we do.  Yeah, we can trust the “commercials” of this world that lay out life so simply . . . so one-dimensionally easy; or we can trust the Architect of existence.

The cool part of this passage is that it’s application goes beyond just spiritual truth.  It literally promises us physical health as well: “Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.”  Sure, it’s not a “no work required” kind of health.  It’s way better.

Yeah, I don’t want to be impressed with my own wisdom anymore– the pill is just too hard to swallow.  His way seems much simpler.  Besides, I really don’t want all of the side effects anyway.



~ by johndriver on September 2, 2008.

4 Responses to “A Hard Pill to Swallow”

  1. Peolpe go for whats easy and taking that pill is easy but you got to woory about the other things that can kill you. When with doing the exerice is hard but its better. Doing what is not right is easier but, you got to think trusting in God and doing the work is harder. Althought you dont need to worry what the side affects are. With the pill you do.

  2. I think this scripture kinda reiterates to me something i have contemplated many times but have kinda forgot about. We must turn away from evil and the things of this world are evil, that is why it is so easy to cuss around our friends at school. we just want to fit in, to be normal, of course the “side effect” of doing so is that by fitting in with these people we are sinning. Some people justify it as God would want us to be happy so its “ok”. But the truth is God does want us to be happy, but he knows the right way to go about being happy, pray to him, read the bible, and worship him. I believe that’s the way to reach true happiness.

  3. ha i like this a lot. its so true. they almost get you to believe that a little pill can do so much. they are wrong in every way. i would for everything to be that simple. even walking the christian life, but its not! there are things we must do!! i agree i would rather do some work and not risk those side effects!

  4. Being humble is something I long to one day be good at. Living my life is all about God’s way. It is hard for me to accept the fact that what worked for others around me, might not work for me. God knows what is best for my life. He created me at a specific time, and for a specific purpose. All I do most of the time is probably mess that up. I put those detrimental diet pills into my system because I feel like I just don’t have enough time. Time is a factor that can build up stress causing us to do whatever we have to do to make it through the day! God is saying, ” Hello, I’m the right way! Even if it does take some time, I am going to provide the strength from all the situations going on in your life!” In the end the long term muscles built up from all the strength provided by God, will overcome any diet pill from my time schedule (spiritually)!

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