Yesterday Stokes looked at me and asked, “What’s going on with all that on your face?” He was referring to the very noticeable red splotches, especially on and right below the temple areas. These spots are caused by the application of Fluorouracil cream used to treat some pre-cancerous growths that my dermatologist noticed.
Yeah, I know it’s hard to believe that my ultra-white skin has ever been exposed to the sun, and though I’ve never really had anything close to what someone would describe as a “tan,” I’ve still suffered some damage from the harmful affects of the sun. In fact, I’ve already had a few other pre-cancerous spots removed So lesson number one with this is that you don’t have to be a Satan worshipper to be negatively impacted by sin.
But here’s the other lesson … the cure is sometimes more painful that the condition. I didn’t even know these particular places were problems until the highly trained dermatologist found them. I felt just fine! (Sin is just like that, deceiving us into thinking everything is fine.) But now this healing cream is causing irritation, burning, redness, dryness, tenderness, and pain on my face. I know that my hurt and discomfort is negligible compared to those being treated with chemotherapy and radiation for cancer, to those going therapy recovering from surgery, and a host of other more severe treatments. But the point is, the treatment and cure often hurts more than whatever condition is being treated.
The same is true with God’s sanctifying grace. As God works in us, exposing and addressing our sin, sometimes surgically having to cut in some sensitive areas, often without anesthesia, we experience pain. And even though we know His work in us is good, wise, beneficial, purposeful, and healing … it still hurts! It’s compared in Malachi 3 to the refiner’s fire where impurities are melted away from gold and silver. We can’t alway see what God is doing in our pain but we know He is dealing with our sin and impurities in order to make us more like Jesus. And though we tend to avoid any prospect of pain, we know that if we want to grow in holiness we must persevere in God’s refining and purifying grace.
So where is God at work in your life, applying the sanctifying cream of grace that has side effects of tenderness, irritation, burning, dryness, burning, and pain? Don’t despise this grace … it’s necessary … it’s God’s way of producing righteousness in you … even preparing you to comfort others wrestling with their own sin.