placebo effect

EmPulse for Week of May 24, 2010

placebo effect

placebo– def. (latin- “I will please.”) “A placebo effect occurs when a treatment or medication with no therapeutic value (a placebo) is administered to a patient and the patient’s symptoms improve. The patient believes and expects that the treatment is going to work, therefore it does.”  [http://www.enotes.com/alternative-medicine-encyclopedia/placebo-effect]

Funny things, placebos— they work, but for no apparent therapeutic or medical reason. There are all kinds of them too— prescription pills, psychological suggestion, alternate realities (avatars), short term love-lifes, rock concerts, even religious experiences. Sure, they can be real; but we can use them all as placebos.

Actually, we like placebos in our lives. Make-believe cures for serious illnesses, pretend solutions to real-life problems, fallacious corrections to failing relationships— quick fixes. Anything that takes away the pain, removes our anguish, or distracts us from the significance of our situation is more desirable than a truly therapeutic treatment. Like saying our Confession to a Priest, we get our sin off our chest; or we seek counseling to feel good about ourselves, all-the-while suppressing what we know to be true. True-lies, they’re called; still, don’t you feel better now!?!

A lot of us use God as a placebo. We go to church to check-in, to see if it’s like we remember. When we find it isn’t, we either fake our faith to blend in or fade to a grey-plaid, lost in a checkerboard of not knowing where to move next. Still, God is one of the best placebos around—we can take him or leave him at our convenience; go to church or just stay home and watch some TV preacher. Sometimes, even pick up a Bible! But don’t push it. That’s a big pill that might get stuck in my life.

The pitiful thing is that what God is offering us, all of us, is a vibrant, fulfilling relationship with Him, personally. Not some take-it-or-leave-it placebo effect that feels good for the moment—the quick fix, but a genuine, therapeutic remedy to life’s serious sicknesses, be they physical, emotional, or spiritual. He may not heal your broken heart the way you want it mended, He may not get you through that fever, or cancerous growth, or depression the way you had hoped. But He will be there for you at every turn of wheel.

God doesn’t mend broken hearts or heal all our illnesses; but He does offer the strength of His Spirit, His Holy Spirit, to buoy you through the toughest of life’s experiences. There is a spiritual perception that comes from seeing life through His eyes that changes you forever. Once you reconnect with the God who made you, you’ll have little use for any placebos again. For you are plugged into the source of all strength and sustenance.

Placebos, and other meds may genuinely be helpful to us in life; but, truly, we need so much more that can only be found in God.

Have a nice week.

Gary

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