To Give Thanks and Swallow

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The cell phone alarm telling me it’s time for my medication is a jaunty Irish jig. It lifts my spirits each time I hear the call to swallow a few pills. Some medication keeps my heart in rhythm. Some meds limit the number of days each month that I lose to blinding migraines. Still others take the edge off crippling anxiety, with the added perk of helping to reduce some of the whole-body pain I never even realized could improve. 

You might think I wouldn’t need to be reminded of that, given the list of benefits I’ve named, but taking medication has been a struggle for me to accept.

I’m a farm girl. A woman of faith. I attended a conservative Christian college. I genuinely believe that God can heal any of our ailments. I’ve also had my share of rotten side effects that seemed far worse than the malady the medication was intended to treat: whole-body bruising, vomiting, a dangerous cardiac arrhythmia, worsening anxiety, sleep deprivation, loss of taste. 

With such nasty side effects, I questioned if I should accept medication at all. Were the ill effects a sign that God disproved of them or of me? If my faith were stronger, would I need them? What was wrong with me? Perhaps I was uniquely faith-flawed. More than once, I tried to be “medication free,” with nearly disastrous results. I even saw the fact that I’d need medication for my arrhythmia after seven cardiac ablations as a failure, instead of the tremendous blessing it is to still have a pulse.

Today I’m more comfortable with my regimen. This assortment of medications is just one part of a much larger picture. Love, support, and a heaping dose of laughter have worked wonders, too. 

I’m learning to trust that God is using the pills to bring me back into life with my family, my church, and my community. When the jig is ringing and I find a little more spring in my step, I whisper a prayer of thanksgiving and swallow the pills.

Michelle McIlroy attends Delmar Reformed Church in Albany, New York. 

This article is from Breaking Barriers, Winter 2020

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 I've been taking pills since I was five months old because of congenital hypothyroidism--basically my thyroid gland did not function, so the hormones it would normally secrete had to be replaced by synthetic ones.  Since then I started taking meds for depression, then later for schizophrenia, cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes Type 2, and some to counteract the side effects of other meds.  While I know that God could heal or cure any of our ailments, Jesus did not cure all the sick people when He was on earth.  And please note that healing and curing are not perfect synonyms.  God CAN heal us emotionally even if He doesn't choose to cure us, anymore than He didn't cure Paul of his thorn in the flesh.  And nowhere is it written that He blamed Paul for his lack of faith.  God chooses to let Christians suffer from physical ailments as a consequence of original sin so we know what the rest of the world has to live with.  WE should be thankful that meds exist to help people live out their lives and not always make it an issue of having enough faith.