One of the big news items we have all been reading about for months of time now are the record number of flu patients being felled by a virus that just won’t seem to quit. Of course when one virus appears, there will be sure to be others. More than pesky nuisances, they have turned deadly far too often.
Add to that the impact of allergies of all sorts; boxes of tissues have been selling like hotcakes everywhere. Cough drops have been sought to quell the nagging coughs that just won’t stop and any and all remedies have been considered.
Allergens that flooded my lungs and sinus cavities when gusting winds blew through our area for several days hit their aim with me. Of course that triggered sinus issues and for the past week I have been one of those looking for relief.
What caught my attention was that before I started having allergy symptoms (24 hours to be exact), I was feeling somewhat “off”. It wasn’t a body thing, but seemed to be a mind thing. I didn’t feel creative or inspired to read or do things I love to do. I even told my husband how odd it seemed, as there was no reason to support such feelings, but then I remembered reading an article that caught my attention almost a month ago.
The article talked about viruses and the immune system and how it attacks us and affects our brain. That type of article is the kind of thing I am often drawn to and enjoy sharing with my oldest grandson who is in college with a pre-med major. He is fascinated by anything connected to the brain and we love sharing back and forth.
The article resulted in a fresh appreciation for how “fearfully and wonderfully made” we are by God. Bear with me as I share a few of the key things I discovered and the spiritual application.
When any pathogen (a.k.a. germ/virus) attacks the body, God has designed our immune system to kick in to defend us against it. When a virus invades the cells of any one of us, the goal is first to remain undetected by the immune system so it can replicate and increase its odds of surviving and taking us down. Sneaky, right?
But God…He has designed our cells to offset their trickery. He created our cells to know when a cell is behaving appropriately and when it isn’t. I’m thinking radar that catches stealth enemy bombers zeroing in on us in my imagination.
As soon as these aliens are detected, the immune system goes to work with a long list of incredibly devised tools to defeat the intruders. What we don’t often realize is how much of the warfare is happening in our brains around neurotransmitters. The battle results in fewer neurotransmitters being produced due to pro-inflammatory immune responses that begins 24-48 hours before the viral symptoms we would all recognize would even begin. That impact also lasts for weeks after the other symptoms go away.
That information was what rang a bell in my head when I considered how I had been feeling 24 hours before I developed the onset of all the other symptoms bombarding me. It didn’t change how I felt, but it gave me a fresh appreciation for the intricate steps God has created to preserve my body and keep it whole and healthy.
As believers we are aware of the extreme sacrifice God made to allow Jesus to go to the cross for our sins so our spirits and souls would be saved and reborn. But sometimes we can ignore or minimize all He has put in place to try to keep us alive and healthy physically. So much is going on unseen within us in multiple areas at one time. It might be a little like having Delta forces “at the ready” for any and all intruders.
There are other intruders that are just as sneaky and full of trickery and seeking to remain undetected that we too often fail to recognize before symptoms start to appear. The intruders? Pesky doubts, nibbling anxieties, regrets and disappointments that we too often keep alive. Of course there are also those “pet” sins and addictions we have minimized that no one knows about except the Lord of course.
But there is provision for all that as well just as there is with our immune system. Have we forgotten Peter’s warning?
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 (ESV)
We are clearly reminded to expect an intruder seeking to take us out. Time and again scripture exhorts us to be ready,
“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13 (ESV)
God has also given us what we need to repel an assault. He has also given us the strategy. Paul makes it plain in Ephesians 6 in part:
“10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, ” Ephesians 6:10-18 (ESV)
To use that armor effectively, we need to recognize the Spirit’s nudge quickly when anything at all starts to feel “off” instead of shrug it aside. God has given us those alerts for a reason, for our well being, for our very life. He has also amassed the most powerful forces in the world to equip us, His light bearers, to push back the intruders.
He is the BEST and we are truly “fearfully and wonderfully made”.