As a Minnesotan working in outdoor ministry, I've learned quickly that a campfire without bug spray is basically sentencing yourself to torture starting the minute you step outside. (Okay, maybe not that bad, but you get the point). They're everywhere! Tiny, flying, buzzing annoyances that quickly get extremely irritating, and leave a lasting, itching mark for days, even weeks if you continue to scratch. They are distracting, and frankly, everybody deals with them.

Honestly, what is their purpose?

Although they are criticized for being super awful (which they are), those bug bites are related to a lot of things we deal with everyday. The gross stuff. The regretful stuff. The sad stuff. The frustrating and stressful stuff, too. When we let it sit in our minds and hearts for days, weeks, or longer, we sit and we itch. And itch. And itch. And the longer we itch, the worse it feels. It becomes redder, it itches more, and scabs over. Eventually, it can leave a scar. A constant reminder that we've been bit. 

Luckily, we have repellent. We have itch cream. (Thank you, modern medicine.) We have things we can use to prevent and help heal the scars that are left on our skin. What does this mean when it relates to our problems?

To start, we all have our own repellent. We all have our own ways we deal with situations. Same with itch cream; we all cope afterwards in our own ways. We all have something. The cool thing is, we also have a God that does both. Not only does God help us through our problems, but our Creator helps us heal, too. We'll all be bitten by the world, but we have an eternal God who walks through that suffering with us and strengthens us.

This is not to discredit that some issues are harder than others to overcome. Many people deal with things that are bigger and broader than imaginable for others. Some bites take longer to heal. Some will always leave a scar; yet God still remains present with us through them.

"Yet when they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, the Lord brought them out of their distress. He calmed the storm and its waves quieted down."
Psalm 107:28-29

I am completely undeserving to have a God who calms the storm in my heart and heals the bug bites on my skin. I'm a sinner. I don't learn from past bites, and continue to forget repellent and try to heal on my own. It's exhausting, and embarrassingly repetitive. I don't deserve the loving God I have, but I will continue to praise in thanksgiving for God's mercy. The bug bites have each taught me something important: about my life, myself, and my faith.

So. What's your repellent?

Jena Vander Broek - Summer Staff Alum 2017