By Dr. Donald Whitchard
After some time away from the computer and reporting on the topic of biblical manhood as expressed by our Lord Jesus, I’d like to say to the readers who have been keeping up with me that I have had a somewhat troublesome period of adjustment to my condition that needed to be addressed. As most of you know, I have advanced renal failure in that my kidneys are in poor shape and that steps had to be taken to insure that they don’t get any worse as time progresses. Let me tell you what has happened since the last time I posted a column. It’s been over a month and I didn’t want to abandon my series nor did I want to leave those of you who are praying for me wondering what had happened since we got together on this site.
Late last month, I went to see my doctor. The report on my blood test had come back and there was cause to rejoice in that my kidney functions had not diminished but were steady. I was told to lose 100 pounds in the event that if things got worse, I could get a transplant without any unforeseen complications. I don’t need one as of now, but there are precautions that need to be in place just in case of an emergency. I was put on a medication for high blood pressure which would help make the stress of filtering impurities easier and that if my blood pressure were at a normal level, there would be no further damage. I’ve reported to you that my condition is irreversible. Apart from a miracle of healing, I am bound to keep my situation at a level of maintenance and stay away from salt and the occasional sweet. Soda pop is out and the good news is that I’ve dropped nearly twenty pounds since the start of the month.
Besides kidney problems, I am also a manic depressive and have been on antidepressants for many years to keep my mind stable and prevent massive mood swings that have impaired my ability to hold a job and has been the main factor in my early retirement. Now, you would think that since I am a child of God, I should never be sick or desire to walk in a state of sickness. It seems to be a mindset in some evangelical circles that I should claim my healing upon a bad interpretation of Isaiah 53:5. The healing that the prophet speaks of is our spiritual healing that quite frankly comes from a life of sin and deadness towards the things of God. We need His healing touch in order to live spiritually. The LORD has delivered us from not just spiritual sickness but of spiritual death. Apart from His intervention, we are the walking dead headed for eternal hell.
Does this mean that I don’t believe in divine healing? Absolutely not. In His sovereignty, the LORD could reach down from heaven and restore the function of my kidneys as well as give me a healthy mind. I have asked for His will to be done in my life and that whatever He wants for me will be all right with me. I am not meant to live on this sin-soaked world forever, but to have a new, complete, sin-free body which is far more valuable than any physical healing I could have in the limited time I have left on this earth to do His work. When my time on this world has come to an end, I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that I will be with the Lord Jesus forever which is far better than a healed body on this present globe that will inevitably go down to the ground and return to dust.
I am reminded of the apostle Paul who was in a dilemma as to whether he should go home to be with the LORD or to stay in this world and guide the early church towards orthodoxy and a genuine love for each other in Christ. Whether we live or die, we are the LORD’s. He is in charge and we are not. He determines if we take our next breath. I rest in the belief and knowledge that He knows what is best for me and that in all things, He should get the glory and He knows what He is doing. Second-guessing the work of God only leads to a faulty interpretation of His direction and guidance. There have been great saints of God who have done their best work when they faced sickness. The great British pastor Charles Spurgeon suffered from gout, kidney disease and depression that took him into black periods of despair, yet for nearly forty years he led the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London and developed it onto a soul-winning congregation that brought about spiritual growth in the British Empire of the nineteenth century.
I’m saying all this to lead up to a period of adjustment that I’ve had to undertake. In order for my weight loss to be effective, I had to get off of one of my major antidepressants that I’ve been on for over a decade. I was slowly weaned off of it these past few weeks and I went through a rough period of withdrawal, not sleeping for days at a time, sweats, nausea, fatigue, and a feeling of mental sluggishness that kept me from writing anything until I got over this withdrawal. Through it all, God has been faithful and now I am doing much better. My sleep cycles are back to normal and I have had no mood swings since getting off of the medication. The medication’s side effect was weight gain and now that I’m off of it, I am beginning to see progress in that my clothes are much looser and I feel better than I have in a long time. I am trusting that the LORD will keep me stable and that He will see to it that with the weight loss, my kidneys can operate without further troubles.
I will have to keep a daily record of my blood pressure and blood sugar as well as try to exercise in order to accelerate the weight loss. I saw my doctor again this past week and so far everything checks out okay. The point to take away from all of this is that while we can praise God for healing our body according to His will, He also walks with us through the rough periods and sustains us every step of the way. He is the God of mountaintop experiences and valley reality. He never abandons His children and will see to it that if there is no physical healing in this life, we will be the inheritors of something far batter when we see Him face to face. If you want to put everything into perspective in light of biblical manhood, it is this: A real man depends on the strength of the LORD to get him through the rough spots of life and that he should never be too proud to get on his knees or bow his head and call unto the LORD for help, guidance, instruction, and genuine love. I’ll continue to write for His glory and to keep you, the reader, abreast of my progress and how in the end, Jesus wins. Amen.
Don was born and raised in the true Cajun Country of Louisiana. He holds a Bachelors Degree in History from Louisiana College, a Masters Degree in Christian Education from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry degree in Pastoral Theology from Andersonville Baptist Seminary in Georgia. Don has served as a pastor, interim pastor, high school teacher, and hospital chaplain over the past thirty years. He currently serves as a volunteer chaplain (2008-present) with St. Francis Hospital and also served as the pastor/teacher from 2013-2016 at the Gospel Rescue Mission, both of which are here in Muskogee. He was called to Meadowbrook in February 0f 2017 and began his ministry in March of that year. He has also served as President of the Muskogee Baptist Association’s Pastors Conference, which is a weekly meeting that presents speakers and ministry ideas and concepts to church leaders in the greater Muskogee area.
Don’s top priority is to see that the good news of Jesus Christ is shared with our lost and hurting world and that the people of God are taught sound doctrine and preparation for our Lord’s soon return.