The Side Effects of Grace

I got hit with a nasty sinus infection this week, which was, of course, a royal bummer right before Easter and Spring Break. On the upside, it gave me the chance to do one of my favorite things: reading the list of potential side effects on my prescription drugs. This is the best cure for whatever ails you. One glance at this litany of horrors is guaranteed to make you feel better about whatever is wrong with you.

Here’s the list of side effects from just one prescription I got this week: diarrhea, nausea, stomach pain, headache, dizziness, chest pain, chills, body aches, cough, seizures, yellowed skin, fever, shortness of breath, sore throat, ulcers on the lips, weight gain, swollen glands, unusual bleeding and bruising, tiredness, spontaneous combustion and random outbursts of yodeling.

Okay, I made the last two up, but all the others are listed with this drug on the Mayo Clinic’s website or After reading that list, I suddenly don’t feel so bad. My theory is that doctors and pharmacists just make this stuff up in an effort to make us all feel better about ourselves.

Just once I’d like to get a prescription for something that has some positive side effects. Imagine picking up an antibiotic at the drugstore that had a big label on the side that said, “Warning, prolonged used of this product may cause unexplained windfalls of money, improved eye-sight and six-pack abs.” Now that would be one popular drug.

Some people treat their faith like this. They’ll tell you following God will make you rich, healthy and will chase all of your problems away. The only hitch in this theory is that the God of the Bible suffered and died on a cross and talks a lot about people who follow Him doing the same.

And yet, as painful as it can be to die to our selfishness and pride, the side effects of following God are pretty amazing. In fact if God had a warning label, I think it would say something like, “Warning: repeated exposure to this Divine Being may cause uncharacteristic patience with others, peace in the midst of hardship and frequent outbursts of generosity and love.”

I’ve never had much luck manufacturing any of these characteristics on their own, but when I focus on intimacy with God, sometimes I’m surprised to see this stuff popping up in my life as a by-product of that relationship. When I chase after a character trait, I tend to fall on my face. When I chase after God, everything else seems to fall into place.

Maybe, like me, you’re sick of trying to improve yourself and are a ready for a more effective prescription. I recommend a healthy dose of hanging out with the God who loves you, but I have to warn you, the side effects may change your life.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s