Famous Last Words: “I Can Handle This.”

“You will be thirsty. You will beg me for water. But I will not give you any, because your stomach will still be asleep. Until your stomach awakens, I can’t give you water.”

The pre-op nurse stood at the end of the patient’s bed, using her 18 years’ experience to help the surgical candidate understand what lay in store for him.

“You will be in pain. Ask for pain medicine. Take the pain medicine we offer you. You will not get a gold star for resisting the pain unmedicated, and taking it will help you calmly endure the inevitable.”

The nurse continued to describe the different reactions which she had observed patients experience during their revival and recovery process.  No, she had not personally experienced these hardships, but through the years, she had assisted several hundred patients to regain consciousness and to learn to breathe on their own again.

“Do your best to listen to us, and to do what we tell you to do. We are here to help you. We will try to get you off the ventilator as quickly as we can, but you must work with us.”

The patient listened. He heard. He took it all in. He stored it in the back of his mind. Yet the whole time he was thinking, “But I am an exception. You have not witnessed my abilities as a patient. I’m different than all the others. I can handle this.”

These were his thoughts until the first pangs of conscious pain hit him. He believed these thoughts until his parched tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth. Then he understood that though we are all unique, we are all the same. Then he understood that years of witnessing the inevitable stages of the revival process produced a beneficial wisdom within his friend, the pre-op nurse.

Experiencing his own weaknesses stopped him from saying to himself, “I can handle this.”

Spiritually, we all have many people within our lives who try to help us see the dangers and pitfalls of sin. Some speak to us from firsthand experience, knowing the pangs of addiction or depravity. Some try to convince us from years of  lovingly counseling others who were searching for hope and truth upon which they could rebuild their lives. Some speak from a knowledge of the wisdom which God inspired the biblical writers to expound and preserve for us.

The most helpful adviser is one who combines all three; one who knows the truths of God’s word,  who can beneficially apply those truths because he realizes how he himself has been affected by sin, and he has witnessed many of the same affects in the lives of others.

But so many times, the wise advisers’ advice falls on deaf ears. As they try to warn us of the dangers of sin, we look straight through them and say to ourselves, “But you don’t understand. I am an exception. I am unique. I am strong. I can handle this. This will not be a sin to me, nor lead to my downfall.”

“The things that has the power to addict others will not addict me. That which may lead to depravity and poverty for the majority will not be strong enough to lead me down such a path. I will not allow those things which leave others lonely and empty to desert me in such a miserable condition. I can handle this.”

Then one day, we find ourselves slavishly swilling the alcohol or drugs. One day, we find our marriage broken beyond repair because we enjoyed the endorphin rush of flirting with lust. One day we find ourselves struggling to keep our family fed because we bet our paycheck on the horses.

That’s when we realize that though we are all unique, we are all the same. That’s when we realize that there is a reason why our wise old grandma warned us to flee from sin. That’s when we realize that the Bible’s wisdom applies to every generation of every age.

“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’” (1 Corinthians 15:33) ESV

“Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands, take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12) ESV

“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray ny it is not wise.” (Proverbs 20:1) ESV

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