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Preventative Medicine

Preventative Medicine

There will come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt, but after them there will arise seven years of famine . . . Genesis 41:29

At the end of medical school, I chose to go into Family Practice, but halfway through my residency, I realized I had a problem. Family Practice inevitably involved a lot of preventative medicine which meant I spent much of my time encouraging healthy behaviors, screening for diseases, and micromanaging chronic illnesses. However, if a patient’s blood sugars ran a little high, but it didn’t make him feel bad, then it was hard for me to care about it. This meant I just wasn’t very good at it. Then, I spent some time in the Emergency Room where life was far more stimulating. Micromanaging diabetes was boring but when someone had a dislocated shoulder, I found myself interested. So, when I left residency, I went to work in the Emergency Room.

I had no idea at the time, but this was going to be a life problem. It’s not that working in the ER was wrong. It was my predisposition for immediate gratification that was the problem. I simply had very little interest in working for a healthy tomorrow. So, when it came to my own personal life choices, I didn’t pursue a healthy future. Rather, I sought whatever I wanted right now. This, of course, is what led to the disaster of my addiction.

Today’s passage addresses this problem. In it, Joseph was released from prison to interpret Pharaoh’s troubling dream. I won’t go through the entire dream sequence, but the meaning of the dream was that Egypt was about to go through seven years of plenty, followed by seven years of famine. If Egypt wanted to survive the famine, Joseph said Pharaoh must prepare, save, and sacrifice now for a better future.

For many of us, this is a constant life struggle. Our will is continually at war with itself. On the one hand, we want a healthy future, but right now, we want that which is unhealthy. We want to be in shape tomorrow, but right now, we want donuts. We want to save money, but right now, we want to buy that new television. We want to find recovery, but right now, we want the relief of a drink. We want healthy marriages, but right now, we want to look at porn.

The problem with immediate gratification is that the reward is fleeting and there’s always some painful price to pay later. Recovery has meant that if I want a healthy tomorrow, I must learn to do that which is good, right, and healthy, right now, even if it’s not what I want right now. Thankfully, my sacrifice does pay off. I’ve found that I love my life today, because I’ve made the sacrifice of healthy choices yesterday. So, today, I’ll continue to work on making my choices, not just for right now, but for a healthy tomorrow.

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