Monday, May 21, 2007

Failure to Thrive

In a couple of our PBL cases this year, we have looked at the failure to thrive. It is marked by a weight consistently below the 3rd to the 5th percentile according to age, a progressive decrease in weight to below the 3rd to the 5th percentile, or a decrease in the percentile rank of 2 major growth parameters in a short period. Basically it is caused by inadequate nutrition that can result from decreased nutrient intake (eg. pyloric stenosis), malabsorption (eg. Celiac disease), impaired metabolism (eg. galactosemia), increased excretion (eg. diabetes mellitus), or increased energy requirements (eg. cystic fibrosis).

For Christians, spiritual growth is of paramount importance. Without proper care, it's easy for us to fail to thrive and mature. I don't think there's a definitive scale for us to compare ourselves to in order to determine what percentile we fall under. But there are definitely several activities that we should become routine in our lives to prevent a failure to thrive. Spiritually we need to eat (eg. read the bible), breathe (eg. pray), maintain good hygiene (eg. confess our sins), have a caring family (eg. fellowship with others in Christ), regular exercise (eg. serve the body of Christ), protection (eg. against temptation), and to give generously (eg. be good stewards of the all God has entrusted to us). Staying healthy spiritually is really no different than keeping physically healthy.

I think one area that is rarely shared about in Christian circles is the area of confession. It's no surprise. Any normal person would not jump at the opportunity to confess his shortcomings - to tell the world that their marriage is falling apart or that they are suffering from depression. It has the potential to tarnish our image and hurt our reputation. I don't know about others but sometimes there's this pressure to put up a front that gives everyone the impression that things are all fine and dandy in life.

When the people saw Jesus hanging out with a tax collector, they lost respect for Him - not understanding why He would associate with sinners. But Jesus made it very clear while staying at Zacchaeus' house that He came to seek and save the lost. Healthy people don't need to see a doctor. In the same way, Jesus came not so much for the righteous but for those who were spiritually weak and sick. Similarly, when Jesus told his parable of the lost sheep, he was gathered around by tax collectors and "sinners." The church isn't meant to be a place where perfect people gather. It's a place for sinners to come, to confess their sins before God almighty, repent, and be saved by grace. We've all sinned and people need to understand that church is filled with people who have messed up but have found hope in the Lord. The apostle Paul himself confessed that, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst."

When things aren't going so well between God and myself, and I need to reconnect with Him, I like to read Psalm 51. Well, I guess I shouldn't say I like to read it...I don't enjoy reading it because of the guilt it makes me feel but I know that I need to fix things with God and the psalm really helps me to wrap my head around that. It's a psalm that David wrote after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba. David, a man after God's own heart, said this humble prayer for forgiveness and cleansing because he screwed up. It's really hard to confess my sins - especially if it involves someone else on top of God. Pastor John Underhill outlines 7 A's for confession: Address all involved, avoid ifs/buts/maybes (real confessions don't have excuses!), admit specifically what you did wrong, acknowledge the hurt you caused, accept the consequences, alter your behaviour, accept God's forgiveness. For my oral hygiene, I brush my teeth twice a day. I don't even come close to that frequency when it comes to my spiritual hygiene. Something that perhaps could use some work.

"Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin...

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me...

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise."
- parts from Psalm 51 (NIV)



Post a Comment

<< Home