Every time I cut myself, I can hear my (late) grandmother’s words in my head, “Don’t let it fester!” As a young child, I wasn’t exactly sure what she meant by “fester.” I learned rather quickly that keeping the area clean and protected prevented “festering.”
Anyone who has had an open wound knows the importance of treating it immediately. Left unattended, it can quickly become infected. If still not treated, the infection can enter the blood stream and spread throughout the body. Depending on the location of the wound, festering can also lead to gangrene, where the tissue actually dies. Either of these conditions can be fatal. Thus the old addage, “Don’t let it fester!”
But, what if our wounds are emotional rather than physical in nature? Might the same principles apply? Could a festering emotional wound lead to other issues…possibly even death?
Let me introduce you to a man named Absalom. He was born into a royal family, the son of a King, and was admired by many for his position and his great looks. Absalom had a sister, Tamar, who was a virgin, and also very beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that her half-brother, Amnon obsessed over her beauty to the point of becoming ill with lust. His scheming led to the eventual rape of Tamar. When Absalom heard of it, he felt the stab of his sister’s pain, taking her into his home to reside and be cared for. Living with the daily reminder of what happened to Tamar, Absalom developed his own wound, an emotional wound of “hatred” toward Amnon.
Absalom let that wound fester for two years. His hatred spread like an infection through his mind and his heart. Having not dealt with it in a timely manor, Absalom (successfully) schemed to have Amnon killed as revenge for his actions toward Tamar. New symptoms of his wound, guilt and fear, caused Absalom to flee to the land of his mother’s relatives, banished from his father’s kingdom.
Three more years of festering passed before he was allowed back home. Two more years he was kept from seeing his father’s face. More festering. His anger and hatred became like gangrene, killing off his love for his father and blinding him with selfish ambition. Four more years passed and he tried to cover the wound with the balm of his wealth and good looks, but it was too late. His mind was filled with the poison as he conspired to take over his father’s kingdom. His good looks got him in a tangled mess and made him vulnerable for capture, and even death. (Read the rest of the story in 2 Samuel 18!)
While this is a rather dramatic, albeit true story, it is one we can definitely glean from. Emotional wounds, left unattended, will fester just like physical wounds. Dealing with them promptly, applying the ointment of forgiveness, and trusting God to provide the healing will ensure better emotional health.
Might you have some wounds that need tending to?