“The doctors killed Garfield, I just shot him,” claimed the assassin, Charles Guiteau. Guiteau’s strange words were not entirely wrong. James Abram Garfield, our 20th President, died eleven weeks after being shot.

Aerial view of doctor's supplies

He’d been on his way to a family vacation at the Jersey shore when Guiteau’s bullet pierced his body and lodged in his abdomen near his spine. Doctors rushed to the scene. They poked and prodded the wound with unwashed hands in an attempt to remove the bullet without success.

In tremendous pain, President Garfield was brought back to the White House where the doctors continued to surgically probe the wound, turning a three-inch-deep hole into a 20-inch-long incision. Infection set in turning the wound into a puss-filled, rotting mess. What we now know as germs and bacteria attacked the President’s internal organs, rendering them septic. President Garfield died on September 19th, 1881, technically not from a bullet but the following infection. (Markel, The Dirty Painful Death of President James A. Garfield, PBS.com NewsHour, Sept 2016)

We may not have taken a bullet, but many of us have open gashes festering like President Garfield. Whether something horrific was done to us or whether our actions left a physical, emotional, or mental wound, we wrestle with the negative thoughts and doubts that seep in. Guilt, worry, and stress corrode our well-being and steal our joy.

Ephesians 4:27 says, “Do not give the devil a foothold.”

A foothold isn’t much, but it’s just enough to keep a door from closing. It’s enough to let something unwanted inside. Once it’s in, the septic thoughts infiltrate our hearts and minds like those doctor’s unwashed hands. But we have the power to stop them.

2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to, “Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

We have the power to rein in our thoughts and take them captive. We can flush out guilt, self-doubt, and shame and rid ourselves of their toxic infection. We can let the blood of Jesus cleanse us – wash us clean.

Sheep in the snow

I find it best to shut off those negative thoughts as soon as they begin. I remind myself I am a child of God, that He delights in me, and that Jesus’s blood has washed me white as snow. When you come under attack, if you still question whether you are worthy or capable of being cleansed of all sin, let me remind you of what the Bible says:

Psalm 103:12 – As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Colossians 1:13-14 – For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Hebrews 9:14 – How much more, then, will the blood of Christ… cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death.

Isaiah 1:18 – “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

1 John 1:9– If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

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