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Spiritual Hypochondria

The day before your life changes forever is just like any ordinary day. My nephew lived the reality of that statement last week when he had a heart attack that he initially thought was a muscle pull. Until the pain drove him to his knees.

Our family has a history of heart disease so I’m pretty cautious of ignoring what might be a sign or symptom. But this week it seems I’m particularly sensitive to the aches and pains that I would normally reason away. I’m a bit like the old man Sanford in the sitcom Sanford and Son, every pain leads me to think I’m “having the big one.” My temporary hypochondria will only last until my nephew gets the treatment he needs and begins his complete lifestyle change. Once he’s well on his way, I will feel better and worry less that his experience will soon be mine.

While I think we all suffer from a little physical hypochondria from time to time, there is a spiritual hypochondria which tends to be more subtle, lasts longer, and its source can be surprising.

Those who are highly critical of others in their spiritual walk are more likely to be constantly checking their own spiritual pulse. In fact, they can become so self-absorbed, they doubt their own salvation with every muscle pull they experience and that, in turn, feeds the critical spirit that gauges other people’s every move. They will live in the bondage of their spiritual hypochondria until they realize the muscle pull has become a serious heart issue and it drives them to their knees.

My nephew is committed to listening to his doctor and is trusting that the prescribed changes will become his normal, ordinary lifestyle to dramatically lower his risk of a second heart attack. He may even have some roto-routing of his arteries to clear the plaque build up. That’s good news.

The prescription for spiritual hypochondria is that the promise of 1 John 1:9 can be trusted. If we confess our sin, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Getting our spiritual arteries cleared of blockages is good news also - for ourselves and others.


Father, thank you that we can trust the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives to keep us from falling. We pray that other people will see only Jesus reflected in us. Amen.

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