My ears itch, literally. It’s a side effect from radiation therapy I received a couple of years ago in treatment for throat cancer. It may sound weird… but I’m thankful for my itchy ears. This physical inconvenience has served as a reminder of a spiritual truth God taught me through the toughest time of my life.
Before cancer I was much like many other American Christians. I was guilty of surrounding myself with teachers who said what my itchy ears wanted to hear. I heard, read, studied and claimed the scriptures I liked and overlooked ones I should have paid more attention to. I didn't do it on purpose; it was just easier to accept the scriptures that inspired me and gloss over the difficult ones.
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 2 Timothy 4:3
It took a season of suffering for me to recognize my weakness of avoiding sound doctrine. I love God’s creative reminder of itchy ears that He has given me. Now instead of avoiding difficult scriptures I embrace them. Below are a few of my favorites:
- It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. Psalm 119:71
- Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4
- Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:12-13
When I satisfied my itchy ears with lopsided teaching I left a huge blind spot for the enemy to attack. Because I didn't think God would allow me to suffer, I was shocked when He did. Now I know that affliction is good for me. I do consider it pure joy to know that God loves me enough to not leave me lacking. By participating in suffering I am all the more overjoyed that God’s glory was revealed through my healing.
Do your ears itch? Do you surround yourself with teachers and scriptures that only tell the parts you like to hear? Are you leaving a blind spot open that the enemy can use to catch you off guard? If so, scratch the itch with the only thing that can truly help, sound doctrine.