When Should You Go To The Doctor?

When Should You Go To The Doctor?

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

I was chit-chatting with a friend from college about his latest work assignment, which took him to the Mississippi delta. He mentioned he had been by the birthplace of Kermit the Frog in Leland, Mississippi. Of course, I know Leland well since my mother grew up there. But sadly, I’ve not had a reason to visit Leland since my maternal grandfather passed in 2004. And while Deer Creek, which flows through Leland, is picturesque, I would have never thought it to be the place Jim Henson would choose to serve as the place of Kermit’s nativity. Yet, Jim Henson had been born in nearby Greenville, Mississippi, and spent his early childhood in Leland due to his father’s career as an agronomist for the Department of Agriculture.1  

Can you believe it has been about 32 years since Henson left this life? Do you realize that there are potentially two generations familiar with Henson’s creations but are unaware of their creator? It boggles the mind of this “middle-aged” man. The older I become, the more I appreciate the Latin inscription on some clocks: Tempus fugit (i.e., “time flies”). But as I ponder the legacy of Jim Henson, the more I am struck by its tragedy. There was no reason that Henson had to die. The illness that took him was easily treatable had it been caught in time. There are certain complicating factors, to be sure. Henson’s parents reared him in the Christian Science faith.2 If you were unaware, Christian Scientists believe they should treat illness with prayer before medicine. In all fairness to Henson, he had stopped being an active practitioner of Christian Science in the 1970s,3 but one wonders if certain aspects of that upbringing did not stick with him. His friends say that he likewise did not like to think he was bothering others. So, complaining about his health or going to the doctor were things away from which he shied.  

By the time Henson went to the ER, he had already been coughing up blood and had difficulty breathing. His inability to breathe landed him in the ICU and on a ventilator. X-rays showed lung abscesses, and the doctors gave him multiple antibiotics. The antibiotics were working, but Henson was still going into shock, his organs shutting down. Within twenty-four hours of his admittance to the hospital, Henson died from streptococcal toxic shock syndrome caused by Streptococcus pyogenes. The doctor announcing Henson’s death suggested that the medicine would have saved Henson had he come in a few hours earlier.4 Nevertheless, it was a shocking reminder to Americans about the lethality of pneumonia. 

It is easy to armchair quarterback Henson’s decision since we possess hindsight. But when would you have gone to see the doctor? Would you have gone the moment you felt something was “off?” Maybe you would go after having a sore throat for several days? Most people would not have waited until they were coughing up blood. Relatively speaking, disorders of the body are easier to spot. Spiritual sickness, not so much. The presence of such is not to suggest there are no symptoms. There is a lie told here or skipping an assembly of the church there. But things become cumulative and indicate spiritual sickness. Paul said of the Corinthians that their transgressions invalidated their observance of the Lord’s Supper and revealed them spiritually weak, sick, and even asleep (dead?—1 Corinthians 11.30). Elsewhere, the Hebrews writer had to caution Christians of the ease with which they can drift away (Hebrews 2.1). And the problem with spiritual sickness is that a calloused heart doesn’t realize it is imperiled (Hebrews 3.12-19).  

Our time to seek the Lord is limited. Thus, God cautioned His covenant people of old to seek Him while He was available for them to find (Isaiah 55.6-7). And Jesus invites us to enter the New Covenant today (Matthew 11.28-30). We have no more time promised than did they. James reminds us that our physical life is like rapidly dispersed water vapor (James 4.14), and the Hebrews writer says judgment follows death (Hebrews 9.27). So, when should you go to the doctor? I’d suggest that time is the moment you realize you are sick. But when should you go to the Great Physician? “Behold, now is the acceptable time,’ behold, now is ‘the day of salvation ’” (2 Corinthians 6.2 NASB1995). Don’t lose your soul because of something you could have prevented! 

Sources Cited: 

1 Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia.“Jim Henson”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 12 May. 2022, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Jim-Henson

2 Schindehette, Susan. “Legacy of a Gentle Genius.” People, 18 June 1990. https://muppetcentral.com/articles/tributes/henson/hensonarticle5.shtml 

3 Evans, W. R. “Henson Rumor Is Groundless.” Toledo Blade, 1 July 1990, p. E4. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=7ElPAAAAIBAJ&pg=4502,372385

4 Schreuder , Cindy. “Pneumonia Quickly Spread in Henson.” Orlando Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel, 27 July 2021, www.orlandosentinel.com/news/os-xpm-1990-05-18-9005180413-story.html

Could You Survive A Medieval Winter (Or An Ancient Persecution)?

Could You Survive A Medieval Winter (Or An Ancient Persecution)?

Neal Pollard

How would you like to try and negotiate a Russian winter the way our Medieval forbears did, sans electricity, modern food conveniences, and Netflix? The Middle Ages, an approximate 1,000 years from about the time of the fall of the western Roman Empire (in Rome, Italy) to the time of the collapse of the eastern Roman Empire (in Constantinople, Turkey), also had a “Little Ice Age” from 1300 to “about 1870.” Sandra Alvarez writes, “Winter was a frightening time for many people; if there was a poor harvest, you could starve to death, and there was always the chance of contracting illnesses that could easily kill you, like pneumonia…. Winter was the most dangerous time in the medieval calendar year” (medievalists.net). A few years ago, a medievalist reenactment group (who know such existed?) selected one of their own “to live on a farmstead, with only ninth century tools, clothing and shelter for six months” (ibid.). Once a month they checked on him to make sure he was still alive.  The volunteer was undoubtedly hearty, but he could have left if he needed or wanted to. His more ancient counterparts could not.

I find it interesting to think about how people lived in the past, throughout the different periods of history. Dave Chamberlin is the master of transporting his students back to Bible history, describing the housing, diet, habits, and mindset of those in Old and New Testament times. It is incredible that people who lived so starkly different from us had the same feelings, needs, desires, and thoughts that we do today. How masterful that God wrote a book as ancient as the beginning of time and as modern as the morning news. It guides and directs us more adroitly than the best-selling survival guide by the world’s finest team of experts could.

As a Christian interested in restoring New Testament Christianity, I think about my first-century forbears. I assemble to worship in a much different style of clothing, singing songs with different tunes and illustrating sermons with different current events. As Christians visited at the conclusion of worship, did they have ancient equivalents for our talk of football, medical procedures and doctor visits, children’s and grandchildren’s social, athletic, and educational activities, and the like? Often, their pressing problems centered around surviving in a culture that, at times, detested them even while they enjoyed the great benefits of their godly lives. Their thoughts and prayers periodically centered around losing their jobs and possessions for being Christians (cf. Heb. 10:34) and even their homes, safety, and the threat of death (Acts 8:1ff; 12:1ff).

In some ways, our times are decidedly different. We enjoy many advantages and suffer a few disadvantages compared to our physical and spiritual ancestors. The time may come when we must face a winter without cars, electricity, and store-bought food. The time may come when we must face a culture so hostile to our faith that it costs us in a way none of us has yet experienced. The way to cope then would be the way we must cope now, by trusting a God whose provisions we often take for granted, whose love for us is greater than we could fathom, and whose promises are more enduring than life, death, and the grave. In the greatest trials, we can say with Paul, “31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:31-32). Nothing can separate us from His perfect love (Rom. 8:35-39). That, my friend, is timeless!

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