I Love Strep Throat
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one. Ephesians 6:16
I still work a few hours of urgent care every week where I see a tremendous number of respiratory illnesses. Everyone wants something fixable and the words that patients dread to hear are, “It’s just a virus”. What the patient hears when I say this is, “I’m useless and I can’t help you. Buck up”. As a physician, I like to fix things, so it’s somewhat unfortunate that 90% of the respiratory illnesses I see in urgent care are simple viruses about which I can do little. Particularly in Covid-19 times, everyone wants strep throat, a bacterial infection, because it’s treatable. With strep, you just take a pill for a few days, and it’s gone. I love strep throat because it’s easily fixable.
Unfortunately, we approach a lot of other illnesses the same way. With high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes, the best treatment is dramatic lifestyle modification. As physicians, we do recommend those things, but radical change is hard. It’s far simpler to take a pill and just like with strep throat, we want the pill to fix everything.
I’ve unfortunately approached my faith in much the same way. In the Bible, I read that I’m saved by faith and that faith protects me from evil. If faith is just a belief in my head, then this is easy. I can believe in a thing without doing any hard work or making any life changes. I just sit back, believe, and I’m good, right? My do-nothing-faith in God is a lot like penicillin for strep throat – there’s just not much effort required on my part.
The definition of faith presented in the Bible though is far more than just a belief. Considering the story of Peter walking on the water (Matthew 14:22-33), faith appears to be the continual act of abandoning all else to follow Christ. Faith is a belief manifest in action. If we truly believe in God, then that must radically transform our behavior. In today’s passage, Paul told us that we must, In all circumstances take up the shield of faith. Carrying a shield is a deliberate act and if we desire to be saved from evil, we must do the work of following God’s path every day.
Yes, it would be easier to take a God pill and just magically have everything fixed for us. God though, wants us to seek and follow him. So, he doesn’t just give us the easy pill-fix but rather, asks that we obey him. Often, it’s only in our obedience that we see God provide healing and transformation.