It is now flu season and, given my profession, I have to deal with vaccination concerns as well as those who contract influenza. Please bear with me as I try to wear two hats today. I promise it will in one manner or another tie in for what I think are valuable life lessons. I am at least hopeful that I am able to do so adequately.
As I said, it’s flu season and while only seeing a limited amount of cases now, that number will rise of that I have no doubt. And despite what some hear or read a few myths need to be dispelled: the influenza vaccine DOES NOT and CANNOT cause the flu, PERIOD END OF STORY! The flu shots are made with a killed virus that is incapable of causing influenza. Oh some may get some mild body aches, joint pain or headache and perhaps a slight increase in body temperature or as some call it a low grade fever (FYI medically there is no such thing as a low grade fever, a fever is a fever and if you temperature is not 100.4f or above you DO NOT HAVE A FEVER. Next: influenza vaccine has absolutely NOT been shown to cause autism in children (not have any other vaccines) the one publication that indicated that has been proven to have been totally fabricated and very loosely based on highly inaccurate, misinterpreted information. That was compounded by some uneducated celebrities and others jumping on that bad information and spreading the inaccurate information and creating situations where we are now seeing increases of measles, mumps, pertussis and s host of other diseases that only a few years ago were extremely rare. There are individuals that should not get vaccinations but those are a small number. Some will say that they know someone who’s friend’s, neighbor’s, third cousin’s mailman said had a severe reaction to a vaccination. Unfortunately, there are very rare but serious reactions to vaccinations and people have died from those adverse reactions but if one looks at the real numbers the less than 1 in 100,000 severe reactions to vaccines compared to the known complications of any of the diseases we vaccinate for is extremely, extremely small. Simply stated tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands are alive today because they avoiding contracting certain diseases by getting vaccinated. I hate that anyone die but if looking at the big picture far, far more lives are saved than are lost.
There are years where the flu that is present is not exactly the version for which one was vaccinated and, yes, there are time when someone still gets influenza however there is benefit in the form of cross immunity from the strains in the vaccine that one gets decreased severity of symptoms and usually recover much quicker than an unvaccinated person. So that even if the flu isn’t prevented for all at least it’s not as bad as it could be for those who get vaccinated.
Yet another issue about flu, there is no “stomach flu” and flu like symptoms is not nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Flu or flu like symptoms are: fevers, chills, runny nose, cough, body aches and if severe difficulty breathing and possibly wheezing. The same symptoms as a common cold and most people with flu only need the same medicines we use for colds as we treat the symptoms and try to help people be more comfortable as their body fights the flu.
Final comment about flu is that the flu medicine (tamiflu) provides minimal benefit and will slightly decrease severity of flu symptoms and decrease duration of symptoms by 1 or 2 days and that only occurs if it is started within 48 hours of symptom onset preferably before 24 hours has elapsed since symptoms started. I do not use or recommend that it be prescribed except in limited circumstances. The benefit is minimal and the adverse (bad side effects) reactions are likely enough and severe enough that in my mind “the juice ain’t worth the squeeze” in regards to taking it.
Well, obviously I believe in vaccinating against diseases. One can decrease the risks of contracting influenza by washing their hands frequently, using hand sanitizer, avoiding close contact with those who are sick and through good nutrition which helps keep immune systems strong. Massive doses of vitamin C or other vitamins does not cure or prevent the flu or colds. And can cause more problems than they may help. The only definite effect of taking mega doses of vitamins is one has expensive urine since the majority of vitamins are water soluble so are excreted by the kidneys if one takes more than the body needs.
SO…..in order to minimize the risk to get the flu this year one needs to get good nutrition, plenty of rest, practice good hand washing/hygiene and get a flu vaccination. Even then, one cannot be absolutely guaranteed to not get influenza. BUT, doing those things make it much, much, much less likely (YES, I used 3 muches for emphasis!)
Okay, great you’re thinking by now. You are saying to get vaccinated but you can’t guarantee we won’t get sick. So what good is it? And. FINE, we get what you are saying about the flu but what does this have to do with a Christian walk? And, here is where I try to be clever and make analogies. I hope that what makes sense to me actually makes sense to others as well. No one thing will guarantee us to be able to stay on the right path, serve Christ as He wishes we do so and help us avoid sin. BUT, by doing all of those things we can significantly decrease the likelihood that we will have difficulty in our Christian lives and what tools do we have to help us in that process?
The first step is to wash ourselves, rather to ask God to wash us of our sins by confessing to him that we are sinners and asking for His forgiveness.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 1 John 1:7
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 2 Corinthians 7:1
After we are clean we need to maintain nutrition by studying the scripture, learning what God has in the Bible to teach us how to live. He does this with straightforward instructions, parables, example (both of how to live and how not to live) and explaining to us how we can maintain the forgiveness and redemption He has given us and to teach us how to life for His benefit and glory.
16 All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
We can also maintain a balanced spiritual diet by spending time in prayer, talking to God, telling Him our issues and problems, our needs, and seeking His wisdom and guidance.
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Philippians 4:6
Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. Matthew 6:6
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
More important than that, since He already knows those things anyway and even though He knows, He does want us to tell Him those things, is that we praise and worship Him.
1 Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
2 Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
3 Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
4 Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
5 Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
6 Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.
The other part of the of maintaining our spiritual health, the vaccination if you will, is making sure to spend time with other Christians in praise and worship and fellowshipping with our Christian brothers and sisters by going to church.
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Hebrews 10:25
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Matthew 18:20
And, not only congregating with other Christians for the praise and worship, but to hear His word. I know that people learn through a variety of methods: reading about something, seeing something, doing things and hearing about something. How we learn about Christian life is the same, and if we try to learn the same material using more than one of these methods, or even better, ALL of these methods, the lessons are reinforced and better remembered. So, HEARING is a critical part as well, time sitting in the church pew LISTENING to the pastor, LISTENING to the message He is teaching from the scripture as well as listening to the messages in the songs.
So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17
SO, just as in needing to do multiple things to help decrease and hopefully avoid catching influenza we need to do multiple things to help avoid “catching sin” rather falling back into sin and thereby falling away from God. It isn’t hard to maintain your Christian life, but doing one or some of these things, while helpful, does not give you all that you need as a Christian. There are a lot of Christians that think by praying, maybe reading the Bible once in a while, they will be able to be strong and spiritually healthy Christian. I know, because I was that way. Some believe all they need to do is go to church on Sundays and then live the rest of the week in whatever manner suit them. Still others believe that once saved, always saved and all they have to do is confess their sins and ask Christ to forgive them. It doesn’t work that way. I, you, WE ALL, fail God daily and sin in some way. Maybe not big sins, but I doubt there is a person alive that doesn’t slip at least a little every day. None of these things by themselves will keep us spiritually strong; doing one or two is not enough, sometimes doing all the things He tells us to do is barely enough and it is only by being diligent in doing all of them do we best insure that we do not get “spiritually sick” and that we instead are spiritually healthy.
Lord, I worship You and I praise the name of Jesus who You sent to die and suffer so that I and all of us could live. I thank You for the lessons and the ways You help me see how daily life and spiritual life have parallels so I can better understand what You expect of me and how I can be a better servant for You. I pray You help me keep my immunity intact, with spiritual washing, getting all the spiritual nutrition I need and getting spiritually vaccinated. I ask in the name of Jesus that You continue to work with me and helping me to grow in Christ. I pray that You work in the hearts and minds of loved ones also and draw us all closer to You. Help us all see Your truths for us and how to better resist the temptations of life so we do not become spiritually sick and lost. I pray for several different friends who have issues with which they are dealing and that You help them through the troubled times. Give them the comfort they each need and show them Your path for their lives, how they can correct what they can correct and how to move forward with their lives in the way You have for each.