“How’s Johnny Doing?”

“How’s Johnny doing?”

If you have ever had a close relative experience major health issues, no doubt you have been asked this question dozens of times by people who sincerely care about you and your loved one. The expression of concern is both needed and appreciated. It encourages you.

But it also places you in a difficult situation because it is impossible for you to accurately answer the question. When a major health issue is involved, no one knows for sure how the patient is doing; not the doctors, not the nurses, not the family members, not even the patient.

One’s health condition is a relative, subjective evaluation. Sure, some objective physical criteria have been established against which the medical staff might make a judgment call as to the wellbeing of a person’s body. Relatives and friends may judge his appearances as “better” or “good”. But “How’s Johnny doing?” involves so much more than physical measurements and indicators. One’s well-being involves his/her physical condition, his mental comprehension of the situation, his outlook concerning life, his emotional handling of the crisis, and his spiritual grounding.

When a person faces a major medical issue, her past experiences play a large part in how well she deals with the situation. Her sensitivity to pain and her ability to accurately evaluate and communicate the level of pain she is experiencing helps determine how well she is doing. The strength of her desire to return to “normal” plays a major role in her recovery. And there are many more issues that must be considered before one can accurately answer the question, “How is Janet doing?”; her desire to be independent or dependent upon others, her desire for attention, her outlook toward death, her ability to take one day at a time, etc.

Truthfully, “How’s Johnny (Janet) doing?” is a question that no one can answer. Not even the patient. Because there are so many subjective conditions involved as the patient tries to deal with a new and frightening chapter of life.

“Judge not that you be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1) seems to describe this same type situation when it comes to evaluating a person’s spiritual condition. No one can know another person’s spiritual condition; and sometimes the person himself cannot tell you how he is doing spiritually.

Yes, God has given some outward, visible markers that others can bear witness to in order to be able to evaluate whether or not a person has given his life to Jesus; namely confession of Jesus as the Son of God (Romans 10:9,10), baptism for the washing away of sins (Acts 22:16), demonstrating one’s repentance by a change of life (Colossians 3:1-17), and regularly worshiping God (Hebrews 10:19-25; 1 Corinthians 11:23-31).

But these outward, visible markers by themselves cannot be an accurate measure of one’s spiritual health. One’s spiritual health involves all of one’s being. It involves the purity of his heart, and the purity of the motivations for his outward responses. It involves how he deals with his past, how he evaluates his present, and how he anticipates his future. It involves how well he properly understands God’s promises concerning His provision for and protection of his children.

“How’s Janet doing?”

A nearly impossible question to answer, regardless if asked concerning one’s physical health or one’s spiritual well-being.

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