“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” (Dictionary.com). 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