Monday, December 2, 2013

Digesting an Important Lesson

I have never regretted so much adding milk to my coffee as I did on Wednesday.

Subsequently suffering with stomach issues for about 20+ hours, however, taught me a very important lesson. Do not let tolerance lead to intolerance.

Later in talking to a veteran missionary I discovered my apparent and sudden "lactose intolerance" was likely triggered by a recent bout of giardia.

Giardia, for those who want to know, but probably wish you didn't, is an invasion by amoebas, a microscopic parasite, which cause giardiasis - a disease in the intestines, leading to symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, cramps, nausea, dehydration, etc. You pick up giardia from dirty water or food. Yuck.

You cannot drink water from the tap in most of Uganda, and even using the water to brush your teeth can be harmful - obviously.

One of the lingering side effects of giardiasis is lactose intolerance - for like six months. Apparently, my body is not producing the needed enzyme to  break down the sugars in dairy products. So, no milk or ice cream for me for awhile. (I am thankful, though, I can still apparently eat yogurt without suffering for it.)

I had shown giardia symptoms awhile back, but did not test nor treat the illness as I should have. Once the major symptoms stopped, I thought I was home free. So it's likely I was harboring parasites in my gut for sometime and I didn't even know it, until my lactose intolerance flared up last week.

Because I was tolerant to the parasites, as long as they didn't bother me too much, I let them hang out. However, their presence, though undetected for awhile, led to greater and longer-lasting problems.

I think there is some spiritual application here - somewhere. I have also discovered that my tolerance to certain things, not necessarily evil things, but perhaps not helpful things in my spiritual walk, can lead to intolerance elsewhere in my life.

If I fill my life and allow certain habits and activities to remain harbored in my schedule, consuming my time and energy, I find I become "intolerant" (unwilling to endure) what God may be speaking into my life, or trying to teach me, or trying to whisper to me, but I am too distracted to stop, to listen, to learn.

This can also happen with sin. Parasites are small - microscopic - but the damage they do becomes quite evident and harmful. Some sins may appear "small," but if we let them remain hidden and harbored in our hearts, we become "intolerant" to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Holy Spirit absolutely cannot dwell with parasitic sin. Drastic action must be taken against both sin and parasites.

After being clued into the cause of my tummy troubles, I am now taking some powerful medicine to evict the little buggers, and am back to regularly taking my probiotics to help restore the health of my gut. I think my lesson has been learned.

Don't mess with parasites or sin. Don't let tolerance lead to intolerance. 

P.S. Do not Google images of parasites near or during a meal time. :(

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