(SSS* Week 4)
Some medications are to be taken with food and some without food. Some medications should be taken first thing in the morning whereas others work best when taken at night. Did you know there are liquid suspensions that must be refrigerated whereas others are to be kept at a controlled room temperature to maintain optimal efficacy?
And how would you know? By reading the label.
When assessing compliance, there have been conversations where I asked a patient if they are taking their medications regularly. The response is often a proud “yes.” However, when I ask specifically how they are taking the meds, we may discover they’ve been taking the medication regularly but improperly. Oftentimes this is because they did not read the label of instructions.
To swallow a capsule designed to have its contents inhaled will not yield the desired results. To take a tablet on an empty stomach that is formulated to be effective only in the presence of food may lead to a worsening of symptoms. To abruptly discontinue a treatment rather than be safely tapered off of the regimen can cause harmful side effects.
It’s not just about taking the medication. It’s about taking it as directed by the physician. And how do we know the physician’s directions? By reading the label.
This is a principle Saul did not seem to understand very well. After Jonathan and his armor-bearer attacked and killed some 20 Philistines, a God-sent panic struck the whole army (1 Samuel 14:1-15). Saul decided to seek God’s will before entering into this battle. As the priest was carrying out Saul’s request, “the tumult in the Philistine camp was increased more and more” (1 Samuel 14:19). Saul hears all this commotion and the wait and anxiety became too much. Saul anticipated being at a military disadvantage if he were to wait any longer for these instructions from the Lord through the priest. He basically told the priest, “never-mind, sir, you can stop the prayer now. We don’t have time to wait on God’s answer.” Saul reasoned that it was time to act not time to pray.
And he was right. Kind of. It was time to act. The problem is he did not know what action to take. He had yet to “read the label.” I’ve had moments like this myself. I’ve been absolutely convinced it was time to move. Time to say it. Do it. Make it happen. Ready. Set. Go. I’m out! Only to realize I have no idea what move to make, how to say what? Ready, set, go . . . where?
The interesting thing is, all that commotion Saul heard was the Philistines “in total confusion, striking each other with their [own] swords” (1 Samuel 14:20). God had already promised to “deliver [Israel] from the hand of the Philistines” (1 Samuel 9:16).
When Saul told the priest to “withdraw [his] hand” (1 Samuel 14:19), he was doing what a lot of us do with a course of antibiotics. The directions say to “take . . . until all are gone.” Instead, we start to take it, feel “better” or “different,” and decide to stop taking it. Discontinuing a course of antibiotics prematurely allows the infection to grow and worsen because not all of it was eradicated.
Saul’s sin in this situation was not in his burning desire to take action. The problem was with his failure to “read the instructions” and “take action as directed” by the Lord. When he interrupted the priest, he was acting based on his own insights rather than depending on the Lord and committing to obey him. It’s unlikely we will commit to and depend on instructions we don’t take the time to read.
God’s Word is our prescription label for life. The reading of it, coupled with prayer and praise, provides direction. The next time an urgent moment has you absolutely convinced a complete course of prayer will put you at a disadvantage, here’s what you should do: pray! No matter how “different” you begin to feel, if you still don’t know if you are to take your situation and inhale it, spit it out, chew it, or just allow it to dissolve over time, keep praying. Keep asking. Keep reading. Keep listening. It will make your next course of action that much more productive, powerful, effective, and above all, God-honoring.
Don’t take matters into your own hands. Take God’s Word and apply it to your situation . . . as directed.
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