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Hot Spots

"He heals the brokenhearted

and binds up their wounds"

Psalm 147:3

Dominique Decoco recently experienced an ailment common to many dogs: an inflamed area of the skin called a hot spot. If not immediately attended to, a hot spot can quickly turn into an open festering wound. It must have started as an itch on the inside of her upper right leg. I noticed that the area was red, swollen and devoid of hair. And when I tried to take a closer look, I could tell from her reaction that it was also very painful. She made it clear that she didn’t like me touching it. But the remedy required that I clean the area and apply a topical solution. It took two of us to do it. While I held her tight, my son, Benjamin, quickly did the rest. I even skipped the cleaning part. Thanks to the design of the bottle it was all over with one rapid squirt.

Step one was complete. Now I just had to keep her from practicing her own form of canine medicine. (Dogs have an instinctive way of dealing with areas that itch or hurt: scratch, bite, and lick.) Unfortunately all three of these methods only exacerbate the problem. If I didn't intervene we would surely end up at the vet's office. She, with a full-blown infected lesion and I, with an outrageous bill. (It makes me wonder how sick animals survive in the wild. I guess it's nature’s way—to weed out the weak from the strong ensuring that only the fittest genes reproduce.) In order to make sure she didn't act upon these destructive instincts, it was time to bring out the dreaded cone of shame. While effective, this device could compete with many barbarous hazards that nature doles out on a regular basis. And as much as she hated it, it had to be done.

How often have I had a hot spot in my life that I’ve tried to treat according to my own wisdom and methods? For whatever reason, at times I develop an emotional, mental or spiritual wound that calls for immediate attention. Instead of turning to the Great Physician, I administer my own form of medicine. I begin to itch, lick and scratch. I can’t stop. I think my persistent nurturing will bring healing but instead, it causes the injury to worsen and spread. The Lord desires to help me, but I don’t like it when He gets too close because His touch agitates instead of soothes. I flitch and back away. He obviously doesn’t know what He’s doing, I reason, and I return to my own ways. Soon I develop an open, flaming, and infected affliction.

Sometimes it takes the most severe pain and suffering, that leaves me desperate, before I finally cry out for help. It’s only after I’ve exhausted my own store of wisdom and resources that I’m ready to admit defeat and trust the One who knows the correct course of treatment. Even though the cure requires pain and deflation of my ego, I must trust the Good Doctor and submit to the approved prescription. Healing never comes by way of licking my wounds. It comes only as I continually turn my attention away from what hurts and onto the One who was pierced for my transgressions, crushed for my iniquities, and punished for my peace. It is by Him alone, and because of His wounds that I am healed (Isaiah 53).

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