Just What the Doctor Ordered
It’s usually healthy to follow the doctor’s orders.
After giving a woman a full medical examination, the doctor writes out a prescription and gives instructions on the dosage. "Take the green pill with a large glass of water when you get up. Take the blue pill with a large glass of water after lunch. Then just before you go to bed, take the red pill with another large glass of water." The worried woman exclaims, "Exactly what is my problem, Doctor?" The doctor replies, “You're not drinking enough water." -Quote
That’s one of the reasons doctors make the big bucks: they know just what medicine to give you to cure what ails you. They know what pills and in what dose will help you get better. Do you ever wonder when you watch your doctor write out a prescription for yourself, “I wonder how many times they get it wrong?” Probably not too often. If you take what the doctor orders, you’re usually back to your normal self again soon.
I’m not a doctor, but tonight I want to give you a prescription, not on my own authority, but on the authority of the Great Physician. It is medicine guaranteed to help you live better and longer. Best of all, it doesn’t really cost you a dime.
What is this powerful, free wonder drug for your soul? The prescription is found in Prov. 17:22. Read this with me and see if this isn’t just what the doctor ordered for you today.
This prescription is part of the book of Proverbs. These aren’t just old sayings people decided to put on paper—they aren’t just a collection of somebody’s ideas of good advice- they are God’s principles for living your life more skillfully and more successfully—and in this case, living life healthier. You can break this prescription up into 3 basic commands:
I. LIGHTEN UP!
Pastor and author John Ortberg describes a member of his congregation he calls Hank: Hank was a cranky guy. He did not smile easily, and when he did, the smile often had a cruel edge…coming at someone else’s expense. He had a knack for discovering islands of bad news in oceans of happiness…His native tongue was complaining… someone once asked him, “Hank, are you happy?” Hank paused to reflect, then replied without smiling, “Yeah.” But somehow Hank’s face never seemed to get the news.
I’ve met a lot of Hanks in church. Many of them have been lifelong members, deacons, even preachers---unsmiling, hyper-holy saints who take everything way too seriously. They need a good dose of the medicine found in Prov. 17:22 where God says a merry heart is good medicine. What does it mean to be merry? It means to lighten up! More specifically it involves
a. Keeping a positive perspective. I have heard the world can be divided into optimists and
An optimist invented the boat; a pessimist invented the life preserver.
An optimist invented the airplane; a pessimist invented the parachute.
An optimist laughs to forget; the pessimist forgets to laugh.
'Twixt the optimist and the pessimist / The difference is droll;
The optimist sees the doughnut /But the pessimist sees the hole. -McLandburgh Wilson
Which group do you fall in—the optimists or the pessimists? In a world like ours full of evil, suffering, and death, nothing is harder for many of us than holding on to our optimism. But that only makes it more important that you don’t allow yourself to become a pessimist.
God’s prescription for lightening up doesn’t mean you laugh at everything, or that you never take anything seriously. What the Bible says is you and I need to develop the habit of keeping a positive attitude, which might be defined as simply seeing everything the way God sees it. God doesn’t just see the evil, the suffering, the death- He sees how He is working even through these bad things to bring good out of them. God doesn’t just see His Son dying on the Cross—He sees Christ’s resurrection. He doesn’t just see the death of His saints—He sees them welcomed into Heaven, where they will never die again.
We’ve got to get it into our heads that pessimism is just not realistic when you consider the power of God to redeem any situation. Faith in God involves a positive attitude about everything because you really believe
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
If you need some help in this area, let me suggest another aspect of having a merry heart:
b. Smiling and laugh as much as possible.
Someone once said that laughter is life’s lubricant- like oil in an engine, it keeps things running better.
A merry heart is a heart with a smile, a heart that loves to laugh. This verse is telling us that it’s healthy to laugh; I want to suggest to you that it is holy to laugh.
The Bible tells us in such places as Psalm 2:4 that God laughs, and that ought not to surprise us. The world is a funny place. Go to the zoo and watch some of the animals. Go to the mall and watch some of the people. Of all the creatures God created, only human beings have the capacity to truly laugh. I believe laughter is part of what it means to be made in the image of God.
Of course, not all laughter is holy. The Bible does warn us about humor that is harmful when it warns us not to allow ourselves to fall into
Ephesians 5:4 …filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.
There are some things you ought not to laugh at or about. But at the same time, I think it’s high time you and I understood that laughter is not evil or sinful—it is a gift of God, a reflection of God’s very nature. Laughter is good for you.
According to a study conducted by the University of Maryland in Baltimore by Dr. Michael Miller, laughter releases chemicals into the bloodstream that relax the blood vessels and reduces blood pressure and heart rate. Miller, who is the director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the university, interviewed 150 patients who had suffered heart troubles and 150 who had not. Each patient was asked questions to measure their response in typical day-to-day situations. The results showed that individuals with heart problems were 40 percent less likely to respond with laughter.[i]
Once again, science has finally caught up with the Bible! But have you and I?
The Great Physician’s prescription involves you learning to lighten up- to keep a positive perspective on life, to smile and laugh as much as possible. That’s a healthy thing to do, but also a holy thing to do. Do you need to lighten up? Ask God to help you develop a more positive attitude. And then for goodness sake, smile! Laugh! Enjoy God’s gift of laughter.
A lady had a problem with dry hair, and she read in a magazine that olive oil could help. So she treated my scalp with the oil before washing it. Worried that the oil might leave an odor, she washed her hair several times in regular shampoo. That night when she went to bed, she leans over to my husband and asks, "Do I smell like olive oil?" "No," he said, sniffing me. "Do I smell like Popeye?"Then keep in mind the second half of this prescription:
II. DON’T GET WEIGHED DOWN!
The phrase broken spirit= crushed spirit. The picture here is of a person who is so loaded down by the pressures and pains of life they are crushed by the weight. A crushed spirit is a heart that is weighed down with worry, sorrow, guilt, or discouragement. This, Scripture tells us, is unhealthy. The problem is, how do you deal with a “crushed spirit”?
a. Limit your load. You cannot get through life without bearing some burdens of
responsibility and concern. But there are a lot of weights which you and I were never meant to carry. Let me mention some of the most common:
Guilt. All of us have done things we’re ashamed of, things we wish we had done differently, or not done at all. It’s one of the easiest things in the world to look back and dwell on what we should have done, or what we ought to have said. But the fact is, you cannot change the past. You can learn from it, and if guilt drives you to God and helps you learn to live better in the future, then it has done it’s job. But God never means for any of us to be crushed under the weight of our past sins, mistakes, or failures. God does not want you crushed under the weight of guilt.
Another spirit-crusher is
Worry. There are legitimate concerns in life, things that you need to be prepared for. But when that concern crosses the line into worry, then you are carrying a load God never intended for you to carry.
Luke 12:22-26 22Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. 23Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. 24Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? 25And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 26If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest?
Jesus isn’t saying you ought not to work for a living, or that you ought not to do what you need to do to care for you and your family’s needs. What He is saying is that when you do the best you can don’t worry about the rest. Don’t focus your mind on what might or might not happen; don’t dwell on all the catastrophes that could happen. Don’t carry around the weight of worry. One last crusher of spirits is
Grief. Every heart in this world is eventually broken. Your heart may break over lost love, loneliness, sickness, or death. Grief is part of what it means to live in a fallen world. It’s not wrong to weep when we hurt, or grieve over losses. But you can’t stay there. You cannot carry the weight of grief all your life, or it will crush you. The Bible says there is a time to weep, but not all the time. At some point you have to get past the hurt, past the pain, and keep living. Don’t get crushed by the weight of grief.
Well Bro. Mike, all that sounds good, but how in the world can I lose my guilt? How can I overcome worry? What can I do to get over my grief? I’m so glad you asked, because the Bible gives us a beautiful answer to this question:
b. Roll your burdens onto the Lord.
When you try to carry burdens too heavy for you, you will be crushed and beaten down—your …crushed spirit will dry up your bones. But there are shoulders big enough to bear the load you cannot—the shoulders of your Savior. The Bible says that when Jesus Christ hung on the Cross of Calvary, He bore the weights you can’t carry:
Isaiah 53:4 Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows
The Savior Who died and rose again, and Who now sits at the right hand of God in heaven says
There’s no need for you to carry that guilt—I carried all the guilt of all your sins on My Cross. There’s no need for you to carry the weight of worry- if I loved you enough to die for you, I surely love you enough to take care of you.
There’s no need for you to carry the weight of grief. If you will come to Me, I will comfort your heart and dry your tears.
Don’t get weighed down and crushed—let Him bear you and your burden.
A preacher was busy in his study, while his little boy looked at a book of pictures by the fireside. He suddenly wanted a large book he had left upstairs, and asked his boy to go for it. He was away a long time, and after a while the father heard the sound of sobbing on the stairs. He went out, and at the top of the staircase he saw his son crying bitterly, with the large book he had tried to lift and carry, lying at his feet. “Oh, Daddy,” he cried, “I can’t carry it. It’s too heavy for me.”
In a moment, the father was up the stairs, and stooping down, took up both the book and the little fellow in his strong arms, and carried them both to the room below.—[ii]
What burdens are you carrying tonight? Whatever it is, you don’t have to be crushed by them. You can bring them to the Lord right now, and He will help shoulder your load. He can fill the guilty, worried, grieving heart with laugher and joy once again.
Psalm 30:11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
I suppose the best way to conclude this message on laughter would be to tell you one of the funniest things that ever happened to me. (Cracker Barrel, OR Tennis Lesson).
This week, I want you to try out God’s prescription for a merry heart. You just might find it works!
[i] Citation: Reuters News Service and CBS radio news (11-15-00); submitted by Greg Asimakoupoulos
[ii]Methodist Recorder Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations : A Treasury of Illustrations, Anecdotes, Facts and Quotations for