Take Your Medicineby Mark Brisebrios on July 14, 2020
If you are ill and trying a new treatment there is a lingering question. Will it work? As you experience success with a cure, your confidence in the treatment grows. Those who have received God’s touch and been restored, have that confidence. They boldly proclaim the healing virtues of God’s prescribed medicines for healing our wounds and relieving debilitating pain. The important key though, is getting the right prescription and then simply… take your medicine!
The Right Treatment
When it comes to healing wounded people we have confidence in God’s prescription. Repentance is a cornerstone cure but it is not the only spiritual medicine God has given us. Getting the correct medicine, specific for what ails you, matters.
In one way it’s quite simple and makes perfect sense. Yet things are not always clear when it comes to emotional and spiritual wounding. Simple solutions get caught in the web of complexities designed by demonic powers to obfuscate. These forces revel in muddying the waters, yet this one simple truth can determine whether we ever get healing. You have to get the right treatment for the right condition.
Consider! No one goes to the chiropractor for a heart attack and or to a proctologist for fallen arches. Likewise certain medicines work for certain conditions. The needs for healing nations is no different. Whether the issue is strife in the Balkans, racial tension in America or issues with First Nations in Canada, God has solutions that work. We just might need to pay more attention to the instructions accompanying our particular prescription.
We applaud the service of spiritual fathers and mothers who made it their mission to see the nations healed. In their pursuit they have both acknowledged and repented for past sins. Even so, healing continues to evade many of the victimized masses. The pain persists and full restoration seems strangely elusive! What could possibly be the problem?
Maybe they’re taking the wrong medicine.
Right and Wrong Medications
To be more specific we have mixed up our meds. Some of us have been taking the wrong medicine and wondering why we are not getting healed. Though the healing and reconciliation movement has come a long way, there is still more.
Without minimizing the struggle let’s simplify it just a little. Historical strife can be complicated but essentially involves two parties — the victim and the offender. The offended party is wounded and looking to see relief from their pain. The truth is both parties need restoration of sorts, yet their experiences are entirely different. God has a fix for both.
Unfortunately we’ve mixed up our doses without realizing there are two separate medicines – one is repentance and the other is forgiveness. Each party must take their appropriate medicines for their respective illnesses.
Repentance is medicine for the offender. If we are guilty of some wrong our repentance begins our restoration. All too often the wronged have made a critical error in assuming the repentance benefits them. The wounded have mistakenly believed the acknowledgment of their suffering was the magic elixir to expedite their recovery. Wrong! It does wonders for oppressors, yet absolutely nothing for the offended.
The wounded party must forgive! The medicine that heals the oppressed is forgiveness. It is related to but not the same as the medicine given the oppressor. Each party must consume their respective medicines.
If I have a headache I don’t tell my wife to take aspirin. What good will that do for me? Even if she was the source of my pain, medicine coursing through her veins will provide me no relief. Repentance is a medicine critical to the healing process, but it only helps one of the two parties — the offender.
But how is it even possible to confuse the two? In a word – Empathy!
The Value of Empathy
Let me try to say this in a clear but honouring way. There’s a huge difference between the empathy that comforts our hearts and the medicine that heals them. Differentiating between them is a crucial step without which we will lose our way. Those desperately in need of a cure cannot allow themselves to be distracted by temporary relief.
The relief comes in many promising forms. For example, attention itself can be a comforting ointment. Indeed, kindness showered on our pain is refreshing, but it’s not going to provide healing. An empathetic nurse is an indispensable comfort but not the prescription you need.
Even the beauty of having people validate our pain offers more promise than it delivers. To apprehend healing we need to see the difference between what feels good, but will not help, and the medicine that heals. As comforting as empathy might be your wound needs something else.
Repentance falls into this category as well. Having others own your pain can be a great comfort but this is not your medicine either. In fact, mistaking their repentance for medicine can become a dangerous placebo.
Something is missing! Without that elusive cure the infection will get worse as the pain becomes increasingly intolerable. Which is not to say all of the repentance is a waste. Rather, these efforts have brought us to a pivotal moment. We simply need to press further, beyond comfort and into a cure. This will require reaching for something other than the immediate relief of someone else’s act of contrition. The cold compress of their repentance will not actually fix the problem. These are temporary measures that help us get past the momentary crisis. The real solution is still the same… take your medicine.
So what is it? Forgiveness! We have substituted forgiveness for repentance and that, not even our own. Offended parties have received repentance only to be mystified when their pain is not alleviated. In response they might conclude the repentance is insincere or deficient. The lack of effect is not for the reasons supposed.
Let me be perfectly clear. The medicine for the wounded is NOT the repentance of others, but the forgiveness they were meant to offer.
This is the prescription for healing Jesus hailed. Commanding us to forgive, He went on to say there were consequences of torturous pain and suffering if we do not. Sound familiar?
“So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” — Matthew 18:35
The warning of torment is worth noting, since we are prone to believe our suffering comes from the injustice itself. It does not! Our suffering continues because we have ignored the primary instruction given by God. We have not consumed our prescription.
Rather than suggesting the repentance was disingenuous the wounded should take the medicine designed by the Creator for them – Forgiveness! Faulting the repentance is avoiding the issue.
The Placebo Effect
Drinking from the bottle that is empathy while hoping for a cure is a typical pitfall. It only serves to create a placebo effect, giving the illusion we’ve taken our medicine when we have not.
It feels good to have your pain recognized. Especially if you were told there is no pain and to just “Get over it”. Even then that sense of momentary relief does not last. Those who revelled in the acknowledgement of their pain quickly returned to their state of torment. Does this not define the experience of many?
Unfortunately, many decided the real problem was that ‘you didn’t recognize my pain deep enough’. Which is like saying, ‘if you just take stronger meds I will feel better’. Forgiveness is the medicine for the wounded person.
Hearing the same repentance a thousand times will do nothing for you. We need to realize the acknowledgment does not have to be profound. In fact we can forgive even when others do not repent. Make note of that!
Our healing is not in the hands of another man’s obedience. God has created the means for our own obedience to be the means of our own restoration. This is freeing!
Forgiveness is Medicine
Repentance is what cures the oppressors, while forgiveness restores the wounded. The evidence others have not repented is they are not restored, but the evidence we have not forgiven is that our pain remains.
The irony of all this is that at the end of the day, the oppressors are more likely to walk away with healing since their medicine is more obvious. This is what we see over and over. Those that repent are released from their prison but those that do not forgive remain in theirs.
Forgiveness is not given because others deserve it. Forgiveness is a medicine we take when our souls are tormented. Who should take the medicine? The one with the pain. My illness cannot be cured when my wife takes my medicine. When God designed us He provided medicine for healing and reconciliation independent of all others. These medicines are repentance and forgiveness. Which one should we take? It depends on the pain you have. Take your medicine!