Laughing Matters
Bad medicine, or is it really?

By Charles Marshall | November 11, 2009

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charles marshallI couldn’t find one of my old bottles of prescription pills the other day so I asked my wife if she knew what happened to them. She told me that she had thrown them away. When I asked her why on earth she would do such a thing she told me she had gotten rid of them because the expiration date had passed.

That’s right. Just because the expiration date had passed. Have you ever heard of such a ridiculous thing in your whole life?

I tried explaining there is nothing magical about the expiration date on a medicine bottle. It’s just a date. If the expiration date is July 26, the pills don’t magically transform into cyanide on July 27, do they?

No, I believe a medicine bottle expiration date is just like a speed limit sign — they have to put it there but nobody expects you to actually pay attention to it.

That’s the way it’s always been in my family. I remember my mom was injured back in 1982 and the doctor prescribed some pain medication for her. She wound up not using all the medication so she left the rest of the pills to me in her will. In my family, it’s not just a medicine bottle. It’s a family heirloom.

And one day, God willing, I hope to pass on all my old medicine bottles to my kids. It’s the right thing to do.

But why on earth would anyone throw away good medicine? It’s like money in the bank. One might suggest that, if I’m hurt, I should go to the doctor, get a new prescription, and then go get another bottle of pills from the pharmacy. I think that’s a great idea and I’ll do just that, but in the meantime, I’ll be in less pain because I’ll be taking mom’s 1982 pain pills.

Yes, there is a slight chance that taking old medicine can result in a sudden and horrific death. But I ask you, what is more scary: Rolling around on the floor in unimaginable pain or taking an old pain pill and accidentally dying?

Well, the obvious answer would be both rolling around on the floor in unimaginable pain and then dying from taking an old pain pill. But you have to remember, there are worse fates. You could roll around on the floor in pain, and then accidentally die while listening to a Britney Spears song. Now that would be tragic.

But let me put it another way. Let’s say you’ve accidentally fallen out of a 100-foot tree. You weren’t killed because you were only 7 feet off the ground at the time but you have managed to injure yourself in a truly Guinness Book of World Records fashion. Now you’re lying on your back staring up at the tree, hating nature in general and that tree in particular.
It’s at this precise moment you think of Mom’s 1982 pain pills and long for them with a passion worthy of a 1980s power-ballad.

And trust me, when you’re out in the yard, screaming for your family-heirloom pain medication, that is not the time you are going to want to hear your spouse telling you those pills were thrown out because the expiration date had passed.

My point is, when you hurt, you want something – anything – to make it stop, and the quicker, the better. I’ve known people to try to make their emotional pain go away with a pill, bottle, or pipe. I’ve known others who have tried religion, spirituality, or discipline.
But the truth is only God can heal the soul. Only God has the knowledge and power to examine, diagnose, and treat our heart of hearts. Only he has the ability to look into our beings past our denials, rationales, explanations and excuses, and place his finger on our most vulnerable areas, bringing life where only pain had existed before.

I think this may have been what Jesus was referring to when he said that he was “the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6). There is no life outside the origin of all life. There is no healing but from the master healer.

So, whatever became of our household medicine dispute, you ask? Well, let me just say my wife caved and I won the argument. That is to say that I hid all my pills in a shoebox in the closet.

Hey, I gotta protect the kids’ inheritance, right?

Charles Marshall is a Christian comedian and author. Visit his website at