Monday, August 29, 2016

Escalating Epinephrine and Misplaced Hope

Brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the ·trouble [trial; tribulation] we suffered in Asia [C a Roman province in present-day western Turkey]. We had great burdens there that were beyond our own strength, so that we even ·gave up hope of living [L despaired of life]. Truly, in our own hearts we believed we ·would die [L had been sentenced to death]. But this happened so we would not trust in ourselves but in God, who raises people from the dead.  God ·saved[rescued; delivered] us from these great dangers of death, and he will continue to ·save [rescue; deliver] us. We have put our hope in him, and he will ·save [rescue; deliver] us again. And you can [or …as you]help us with your prayers. Then many people will give thanks for us—·that God blessed [for the gift/favor given to] us because of their many prayers.
~ 2 Corinthians 1:8-11, EXB ~

By now you may have heard the latest large pharma scandal as consumers reel from Mylan's prohibitive price increase for their widely used Epi-Pen®. If you are a parent like myself, who has a child with life-threatening allergies where this medication is prescribed, it is easy to be prone to panic. From the time our children receive their first diagnosis or treatment for something that is not quite right, we caregivers are single-minded in our pursuit to keep these precious kids alive and thriving. Our hope can end up being misplaced in looking towards cures and expecting mercy from modern medicine.

As for my family, this isn't the first time we have stared this sort of pharmaceutical nightmare in the face. When our son was first born in April of 2000, there was a nationwide shortage of the life-saving blood clotting factor he desperately needed to treat his severe hemophilia. There was great concern in the bleeding disorders community about the ability to treat the disorder prophylactically, undue joint damage because of hesitancy to treat prophylactically, and the fearful thought of possibly having to return to human plasma-derived product, which evoked the not-too-distant-fear of AIDS contamination. Once we got through that season in the community, we quickly learned that the fear of product shortage was eclipsed by the heart-stopping price. Patients like our son face an annual drug cost alone beginning at $100-300,000. Those numbers are daunting, to say the least!

Yet, even with these crises, the Apostle Paul stood as an immovable example to me, as he still does now. In the first chapter of 2 Corinthians, he barely begins to scratch the surface of all the adversity and life-threatening situations he had found himself while seeking to spread the Gospel. It isn't until Chapter 11 that Paul really lays out the ugly details of what he had faced:

Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones,three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin,and I do not inwardly burn? (2 Corinthians 11:24-29, NIV)
Still, he proclaims in the next chapter the faithfulness and power of God. And Paul didn't have modern medicine to help him through all of this! There weren't antibiotic creams to treat the scars on his back. There weren't NSAIDs to help him manage the pain. There weren't pills for his churning stomach. God even denied him healing of his "thorn in the flesh." (See 2 Corinthians 12)

We are still talking about the impact the Apostle Paul had on history today because he put his ultimate hope in God alone. He did not put his hope in treatments. A cure is not where he focused all of his energy. He knew that only God held his life in His hand, had numbered his days, and would keep him secure until He had deemed "mission accomplished" in Paul's life.

The Lord showed me early on that all of my worrying and micromanaging would do nothing to spare my children's lives. I have had no trouble recognizing that I am NOT in control. Some of the most stunning, life-threatening situations with my daughters and son have occurred either while I was standing right next to them doing nothing unusual, or at times I would have least expected. There was nothing I could have done to prevent any of those traumatic events.

While it is certainly unnerving in today's practice of medicine to have a life-saving remedy to our children's well-being suddenly threatened, I, like Paul, cannot hang my hope there. I must walk forward in faith, still pushing back against institutional injustices like price-gouging, but ever-relying on our Maker. I trust him to love us and keep us as He sees fit. 

PRAY: Jesus, You have promised that You would never leave us or forsake us. Even when some of the world's institutions on which we rely fail us, You never will. Comfort my soul with that reminder. Holy Spirit, sooth my heart when I am concerned. Bring justice to those who suffer at the hands of today's giants. Give us peace as we trust You with it all.

~ Barb Dittrich


  1. I needed to be encouraged in this way as I stand at the crossroads of my family's well being. I haven't worked since June 2015 due to health issues and caregiving for my daughter. Income is limited, bills are plentiful. We need a wheelchair van. Home repairs need to be done. I am nervous at times, but I know I have to trust that God will provide.

    1. Oh, Denie, those are hard, stressful things! Be gentle with yourself. Having had a husband who was between 6 jobs in 16 years time, I can testify that Jehovah Jireh DOES provide. That doesn't mean it is an easy journey in the meanwhile. I pray that you feel the encouragement of the hope He alone can provide.