Every step that I took caused agonizing pain. The pain was deep within my left foot, stinging and burning, rushing like an igniting fire. Wincing, I tried to walk without stepping on the ball of my foot. But still, the pain seared through my foot, each step felt like a bomb exploding inside.
The pain had started a little over a week earlier. My foot was a little sore, but I didn’t think too much about it. I could touch the bottom of my foot and find the sore spot. I felt a small bump and wondered what was causing it. I thought that maybe I had a splinter in my foot or had stepped on a piece of glass.
We left town for a few days, visiting friends in North Carolina and attending my Aunt's ninetieth birthday party in Tennessee. The first two days were spent driving, and because I spent most of my time sitting in a car and not up on my feet, My foot felt better. I hoped the soreness would go away in a short time. But instead, by the time we traveled home, my foot was sorer than it had ever been.
My first day back at work was very busy. After being gone for four business days, lots of people needed glass replaced. My foot had gotten so painful, that I called the doctor’s office as soon as they opened. I was thankful that they were able to see me the next afternoon, but the rest of my work day was miserable. I couldn’t keep off of my feet, and the pain was awful. Not only did the ball of my foot feel like it was on fire, but the side of my foot hurt from all the time I spent trying not to put weight on the sorest spot.
When I went to see the doctor, he lanced the sore area and drained off the pus. He told me that I had a bad infection, and gave me a prescription for strong oral antibiotics and a topical antibiotic cream. Lancing the infected area and relieving the pressure made it feel better at once. Although it was still sore for several days, by the time a week had passed, I could walk on the foot without pain. I had no idea how I got the infection, but I was very happy to follow the doctor's recommendations and see the treatment eliminate the infection. I wondered what the outcome would have been in the pre-antibiotic era.
In the past, a cut or scratch could kill you. We all have an immune system that fights off infection. When you get an infected cut, your body fights off the infection, and while the healing process may be long and painful, you have a 90% chance of healing without antibiotics. But 10% of the people with an infection like mine would die.
Journalist Maryn McKenna learned the story of her great-uncle while researching her ancestry. She found a newspaper clipping from 1938 that included his story. He was injured at work when a brass hose nozzle fell on him. One of his scrapes became infected. After a couple of days, his shoulder began to ache, and he came down with a fever. Maryn McKenna wrote, “His wife and the neighborhood doctor struggled for two weeks to take care of him, then flagged down a taxi and drove him fifteen miles to the hospital in my grandparents’ town. He was there one more week, shaking with chills and muttering through hallucinations, and then sinking into a coma as his organs failed. Desperate to save his life, the men from his firehouse lined up to give blood. Nothing worked. He was thirty when he died, in March 1938.” Because of infection, his injuries, though not major, proved fatal.
In just a few short years the new wonder drug, penicillin, would have been available and his infection would have been easily treatable. I’m thankful that I live in a time when infections are not usually life-threatening. My doctor ordered a bacterial culture of the pus from my foot and determined that it was a staph infection. According to the Mayo Clinic, “staph infections are caused by staphylococcus bacteria, types of germs commonly found on the skin or in the nose of even healthy individuals. Most of the time, these bacteria cause no problems or result in relatively minor skin infections.” Around 30% of the population carries Staphylococcus bacteria.
There is another infection that has affected 100% of the world’s population. The Bible tells us that, “Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard.” Romans 3:23 (NCV) and in Isaiah 64:6 (NLT) we learn that “we are all infected and impure with sin.” And this infection can be fatal. “The wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23 (KJV) But fortunately for us, it doesn’t have to be fatal. There is an effective treatment. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (NKJV) Peter tells us that God “is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) To keep the infection from being fatal, we must believe that Jesus can save us and we must repent; “feel or show that you are sorry for something bad or wrong that you did and that you want to do what is right.” (Merriam-Webster Learners Dictionary)
Gentle Reader, “when you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5:19-23 (NLT) We have all been infected with sin. Don’t let it be fatal; let Jesus save you from your sin and allow the Holy Spirit to produce good fruit in your life.