Over the years, I have discovered on occasion that my skin just doesn’t like certain things near it. The wrong laundry detergent can give me hives. The wrong perfume on a towel can leave me irritated. It isn’t a major problem – I don’t have super-sensitive skin that can only tolerate certain hypoallergenic items. But, when a new bout of hives or a new rash pops up, it does send me scrambling for discovery and removal of the latest irritant to affect my skin’s comfort.
The thing about allergic reactions is that removing the contaminant is only half the battle. Even once you find out what you’re allergic to, your body still has to get back to normal. Diagnosing the cause always comes as such a huge relief, but then there comes the emotional deflation of realizing that a diagnosis is only the beginning. Now the battle of clearing the body of the contaminant is required. And that can take a little while.
As I contemplate my most recent skin irritation, I can’t help but compare it to some of the spiritual life contaminations I’ve dealt with lately. There are things that make my life absolutely miserable sometimes. They are contaminants of this world that have worked their way into my everyday life. Actually, some of them have been there my whole life. My temper. My misuse of food. My laziness. My procrastination. My perfectionism. My impatience. I think I’ll stop now, just out of a little bit of kindness to myself.
Twenty-eight years ago, the diagnosis of my problem was revealed to me: sin separating me from God, thus causing the cancer of death to spread through my heart, mind, body, and soul. But unfortunately, the diagnosis didn’t bring about automatic healing. Instead, I was introduced to a treatment plan that would extend for the rest of my earthly life. Some days it seems to be quite effective. But there are other days when it just doesn’t seem to be helping at all. All of the symptoms flare up with a vengeance while I await my ultimate healing.
The delay between discovering what I’m allergic to and finally conquering the discomfort can be a frustrating and disheartening one. In the same way, the delay between realizing that we were meant for perfection and achieving that perfection can be downright crushing. I want to be whole. I want to be perfect. I know what I’m made for, and I’m ready to be there! But the fight – and the discomfort or even misery – remains as I battle my way toward that healing.
Sometimes the treatment itself can be more discomforting that the disease. And this is where the true danger arises. We grow tempted to discontinue the treatment. The cure is so long delayed that we wonder if what we are fighting for is truly worth the effort. So, we pull back. We ease up. We just need a rest.
Again, the symptoms return with a vengeance.
As we await our final healing and restoration to the perfection we were made for, we can’t grow tired of the “treatment.” We are to be disciples. We are to be fighting the symptoms with unwavering faith in the cure. It will come. It is promised. And God keeps His Word. We will be healed. May we never give up on the process.