My Annual Suffering Inoculation
The summer after I turned 30 I was stung by a couple of yellow jackets. And ended up in the emergency room with full-blown anaphylaxis. After seven years of allergy shots my doctor decreed that my resistance was, “as good as it gets.”
Turns out they don’t give you a card that says, “CURED.”
So, “good” or not, I still get a little nervous when I’m stung. As I was last Wednesday.
It was just one, grumpy spring wasp. But still.
Several co-workers hovered, watching to make sure I wasn’t reacting (much appreciated!). I took my Benadryl, grabbed an ice pack for the sting, and waited the requisite 30 minutes–the likeliest window for a reaction.
That is a LONG 30 minutes. And I joked about how I try to see getting stung as God’s way of keeping my allergy shots up-to-date. Because during those seven years of shots? I was getting shot-up with venom every six weeks. And apparently my schedule now is to get stung every 12-18 months.
Which made me think about how we learn to stand strong in the face of suffering. It’s usually by suffering.
I’ll confess that my goal in life is most often to be comfortable. Happy is good, joyful is better, but I’ll take comfortable any day. And when I’ve been stung by a wasp I am NOT comfortable. My first reaction is to reassure myself that I’ll be fine (as I swallow a Benadryl). My second reaction is to wonder if I’m having trouble swallowing (this has NEVER happened, not even the first time). My third reaction is to look at my watch and see how much longer until it’s been 30 minutes.
And then I get a little bit angry. WHY do I have to deal with this? WHY did God make stinging insects in the first place? WHY didn’t I do x or y or z and avoid all this silliness? WHY hasn’t 30 minutes passed yet?!?
Well, what if there really is a perfectly good answer to why? Because God is giving me just a little dose of suffering. A smidge of enduring. A taste of patience. Because I need to build up my resistance to the trials of this world.
This notion doesn’t make me GLAD to get stung. But it does remind me that God doesn’t let anything go to waste. Not even wasp and hornet stings.