Getting Rid of Parasites

Photo by Jim Fischer courtesy of
Photo by Jim Fischer courtesy of

“Be holy, because I am holy.” – Leviticus 11:44 (NIV)

The 23-year-old son of my former pastor suffered a massive seizure while on vacation last weekend. An MRI revealed a mass on his brain. Surgery was scheduled immediately.

But surgeons didn’t find a brain tumor—they discovered a parasite, which had traveled from his stomach to his brain. Now that the parasite has been removed, a full recovery is expected.

I’d never heard of parasites on the brain—in the stomach or intestines, yes, but not the brain. So I did some online research.

According to the Merck Manual Consumer Version website, parasites make their way from the stomach to other parts of the body through the bloodstream. When they settle on the brain, symptoms such as headaches, nausea, vomiting, seizures, sleepiness, personality changes, and mental impairment could occur. Who’d ever have thought a parasite could travel to the brain and wreak so much havoc?

A parasite, as you know, is “an organism that lives off or in another organism, obtaining nourishment and protection while offering no benefit in return” ( The online Free Dictionary definition goes a step further: a parasite “causes harm to its host.”

There are other kinds of parasites—the kind that feed off your mind and spirit, siphoning your joy and leaving untold harm.

Take hatred, for example. It grows over time, one slight, or perceived slight, at a time. If left unchecked—unconfessed, brought before God—it eventually will consume you. Hatred stirs up conflict, damages relationships, and is the cause of more unhappiness than this world realizes. The antidote for hatred is love. The wise King Solomon once wrote, “Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs” (Proverbs 10:12).

Another parasite is envy. When someone has something you want but don’t have, envy takes root and grows, if we allow it. It breeds dissatisfaction within and discord with others. “Be content with what you have,” the writer of Hebrews says (Hebrews 13:5). Paul wrote to the believers in Philippi from a jail cell: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11).

Another parasite is resentment and bitterness. No matter what the cause, unchecked resentment—bearing grudges—mushrooms into bitterness, turning you into a sour person no wants to be around. We’ve all known bitter people—folks who hang on to wrongs done to them, refusing to forgive. Resentment runs deep, and spawns anger and hatred. “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice,” Paul wrote to the Ephesian church (Ephesians 4:31).

These parasites that will suck the joy of life from you and give you nothing in return except heartache and broken relationships.

The remedy for a parasite is to remove it—every trace of it. The best—and only—way to get rid of these parasites is to ask the Great Physician to remove them and replace them with love—His love, divine love, agape love.

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:23-24). Amen.

Extra-Tea: read and meditate on 1 Peter 1:13–2:3

Set in My Ways

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you. – Isaiah 46:4 (NIV)

Sunday couldn’t come soon enough.

Last week while our son and his family spent a week at the beach, back home hubby and I were the animal keepers.

They look after our pets when we’re away, so it’s only reasonable for us to return the favor. But tending to two cats set in their ways hardly compares to looking after two fish, four cats (two of which are ours), two dogs, a goat, a blind horse, a pony, and a flock of chickens.

How hard can it be? All I had to do is sprinkle a pinch of fish food in the fish tanks three times a day, fill the cat food bowls once a day, get the eggs from the barn, step over two dogs that followed me around like a couple of toddlers, run interference for my cats, who were not happy with our guests, and clean up occasional “presents” one of the canines left on the floor.

I would have taken care of the goat, too, but when she head-butted my six-foot-three husband that first day, I said, “nothing doing.” The barn animals were his job anyway.

Then there was the worry: that the fish would die on my watch or that the dogs would run off and I’d be responsible for the loss of their pets. Like when Zoey, the two-year-old Dogo Argentino who sometimes thinks she’s a lap dog, took off chasing a military jet zooming over the house treetop level. She returned when she figured she couldn’t catch it, but not before I practiced what I was going to tell my son.

I’m too old for this. One pet, but this zoo? A couple of days, but a week? I’m used to having a nice, quiet house and moving through the day at my own pace, being able to leave for a few hours without wondering what I’ll find when I get home.

I’ve become set in my ways—something young and carefree me I said would never happen. But there it is.

My spirit is willing, but this 63-year-old body protests anything out of the routine. I took three naps last week and spent a few afternoons plopped in my reading chair. My mind was unfocused and my muse unmotivated—not good for a writer. One night I took a long soak in a warm bubble bath.

Age creeps up on us all, if we’re blessed enough to live to our senior years. By this season of our lives, we’ve learned happiness is found only by squeezing it out of the here and now—not in some distant dream.

I may love my rut, but I know God has made this day for me to live (Psalm 118:24). I choose to rejoice and be glad in it—even if the visiting dog leaves a present on the floor in the middle of the night.

When my aches and weariness remind me of my age, O Lord, let them also remind me that You will carry me and sustain me during the Golden Years. Amen.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on 2 Corinthians 4:7–5:5 (below)

2 Corinthians 4

7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

13It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”b Since we have that same spirit ofc faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 5

1For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

(Scripture from