Word-y Gifts for Christian Faith & Life

Leaving the itchy things alone …



On a recent gorgeous warm night, I walked to a local park to enjoy an outdoor music concert. People were strewn about—some sat on lawn chairs and others on tarps on the ground; some stood while others danced freely in front of the stage to the band’s delight. I had neither chair nor tarp nor the energy to join the dancers (this time!), so I just plopped on the grass and took in the lively harmonies.

Afterwards, I headed home happily. But just as I was getting ready for bed, I noticed something. In the middle of my back were two intimidatingly large welts. My eyes widened as I beheld mountains of tender red flesh protruding from the rather unremarkable plains that are my brown back. What is that?! I screamed inside. I quickly surmised something must have bitten me, but absolutely no mosquito could have done THAT. Certainly not an American one! A National Geographic catalog of Australia’s deadliest spiders flashed through my mind as I frantically thought about how best to rid myself of all traces of the bites as quickly as possible. With no other symptoms accompanying the savagery, the most reliable medical advice I could find told me to leave the bites alone; they would resolve on their own in a few days. I was reluctant to follow that advice. The sheer size of the things was screaming: Do. Something. Now! Hospital, maybe? Besides, how did that opportunistic predator get up there? After I finally calmed down, I decided to wait until morning.

The next morning, the welts were still there, and still as ugly as the night before. And now, they were itching. I applied an anti-itch ointment and struggled all day not to scratch. On the third day, the itching had stopped and the swelling was gone. The affected area was dark but no longer tender. By the fifth day, all that was left were some flat patches of peeling dark skin. The ugly bites were indeed slowly resolving on their own. My body just needed time to take care of a problem without my interference.

I learned a lesson in all of this, of course (besides the virtues of bringing a lawn chair, layering and bug spray). We sometimes face problems that look and feel as awful as those welts—an aggravating issue in a personal relationship, a child that’s hard to handle, a tricky job situation, something we want desperately but can’t seem to get, and so on. Our emotions often make it seem worse than it really is; it itches and begs for attention, and we are desperate to “fix it” as quickly as possible. In many of these cases, because of our limited knowledge, control and power, God asks us to simply pray about it and let it go (1 Peter 5:7; Phil. 4:6-7). Despite how desperate we feel, sometimes the wise thing to do is to just leave it alone . . .

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