Ed, my neighbor next door, claims it wasn’t his fault. A nasty virus has picked on him while he has been minding his own business and leaving everyone else alone.
“Those viruses are sneaky. You never see them coming. One minute you’re fine and the next you are feeling like the cow kicked you in the head. Then it gets worse, because there is an elephant sitting on your chest and you cough so deep and hard that your liver is shaking hands with your tonsils. You need sympathy, but most try to keep clear of you and the few who do come close are coughing and whining worse than you,” I told Ed.
It was one of the few times Ed felt like I knew what I was talking about. We both agreed that this virus making its way around the community is an obstinate devil. It is like the freeloading relative that won’t leave unless you get the police to put him out. Ed claims he heard the virus will hang around making a person miserable for a hundred days. I think a hundred days is an exaggeration to the point of silliness, but this virus is tricky – letting you feel better one day and sick again the next. It is a double dealing virus out for our worst interest.
A synonym for virus is poison. I like the dictionary definition of virus as “any of a large group of tiny infective agents causing various diseases.” It can also mean any harmful influence. In the Bible, harmful influences were not always tiny. We are told of venomous snakes infecting the people of Israel in the desert. Poisonous snakes appeared among the people, the snakes bit them and they got sick and died.
Today the bite of a poisonous snake may not cause death if one can take an antidote in time. When the people called to Moses for help, the antidote given was an unusual remedy to counteract the snake poison. The people asked Moses to pray to God and have God take the snakes away. God’s answer to the prayer was not to take the snakes away. He told Moses to make a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. God said, “Anyone who is bitten can look to it and live.” God’s antidote worked, for when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, the person lived.
I mentioned to Ed that there are a lot of harmful infections going around all the time. They don’t cause sickness of body, but infection in our soul or our spirit. One of them is complaining. It seems complaining, also known as displeasure, fault finding, and accusing can be picked up from association with others and from our own thoughts and feelings. If we find ourselves in the company of others who are expressing themselves with grumbling and griping, blaming and criticizing others, we may become captivated by our associates and become seriously infected with complaining also.
Ed says complaining is fine unless someone is complaining at or about you. For myself, I have found it is hard to be consistently thankful and display gratitude. Sadly, it is so easy to complain but so difficult to stop. The virus of complaining is everywhere.