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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Correct Diagnosis

Crippling symptoms appeared uninvited. Without so much as a token 'with your permission', they took up unwelcome residence in my husband's body. In response to his best efforts to evict them, they remained entrenched and claimed possession with remarkable tenacity.

He sought help. Three doctors listened, poked, prodded, drew blood, ran tests and drew tentative conclusions. The symptoms were obvious; the cause was obscure. Finally, by a process of elimination, the source was announced and appropriate treatment began. Handfuls of pills. Adaptive therapy. Weeks of waiting. No progress. The symptoms remained as invasive as ever.

The expertise of a fourth doctor produced our first ray of hope. A quick diagnosis, a short procedure and a new type of therapy began the slow process of letting him reclaim use of his body.

Correct diagnosis is everything. This is as true for my soul as it was for his body.

I am often crippled by bad behavior. I am led astray by unwelcome thoughts. I trip over my own intolerance. In response I reach blindly for the latest 'how to' book. I make lists. I journal. I join accountability groups. Much of it is done in a manipulative effort to produce a more Christ-like image in me. Disappointment dogs my days as my efforts fail to bring about lasting change.

I too often focus on the symptoms and not the root cause of my own behavior. I may deny it by blaming circumstances or other people. I may excuse it as a personality quirk. I may pin it on God who has allowed it to surface in my life. But these incorrect diagnoses leave me unhealed and in continuing pain.

For a correct diagnosis, I have to seek the counsel of the Great Physician. It is he who recognizes pride and self-sufficiency and who knows I suffer from failure to love or to forgive. Only he provides much sought relief. 'He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!' (Psa 103:3-5).

Although I regret the days I remained immobilized by a faulty diagnosis, I rejoice that the only true diagnostician offers 24/7 office hours.