You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word. Psalm 119:114 (NIV)
When I was a little girl and got sick, my mother always pulled out a little blue book and consulted it about my illness. Whether it was pink eye, asthma, bee stings or a rash, her book had the answers. It was called the Merck Manual and was a directory of health problems, their cause and cure. My mother’s came from my dad who was a medic in the Korean War. He served on a minesweeper in the Far East as well as at a hospital in Washington, DC and Charleston, South Carolina. He has some wild stories to tell about his work. In those days, he did many things that physicans do now. He relied on his Merck Manual to help him in his work and kept it when he was discharged, and it became my mother’s reference book. When anyone was sick, she thumbed through it, depending on its pages to help her know how to treat us or if it was serious enough to call the doctor. If the Merck Manual said it, then, we did it. I remember as a teenager reading it convinced I had an exotic illness and was going to die. I didn’t have the touch that my mother did when it came to finding information in the Merck Manual. A few years ago, she updated her knowledge by purchasing a larger, more recent version which she still consults. Even though the Merck Manual is now available on line, she still prefers her book. Over the last couple of weeks, she has struggled to understand what was wrong with my dad. When the doctors could not adequately explain his condition, out came the Merck Manual. Even before the diagnosis of Antibiotic Induced Colitis, Mom had earmarked the page and informed dad of his disease. She excitedly outlined all the symptoms and matched them to his. The doctor’s treatment met with her approval as well. It was exactly what the Merck Manual prescribed. When they went back for a follow up visit, she only nodded when the doctor confirmed her finding. Once again, the Merck Manual was right. While my mom depends on her Merck Manual to help her in times of illness to know which way she should turn and how she should go, she depends on her Bible to help her in most other times of trouble. Just like the Merck Manual, it has the answers that we all need. It comforts, heals and brings truth about our condition. There are answers about relationships, money, work, God, and all areas of our life. They wait within its pages. All we have to do is open it up and read it.