File:Jelly cc11.jpg

Pacific Sea Nettle, Monterey Bay Aquarium, CA, Source, Author Dan Parsons Dan90266 (CC Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic)

Jellyfish are equipped with stinging tentacles used to paralyze, capture, and kill their prey.  The largest known specimen, the lion’s mane or giant jelly, has tentacles which can reach 120 feet in length.  That is longer than a blue whale.

The sting of a jellyfish can be agony.  In humans, that sting can cause burning and blistering of the skin, difficulty breathing, changes in heart rate, chest pain, abdominal cramps, vomiting, muscle spasms, numbness, weakness, and collapse.

The tentacles can sting, even after a jellyfish has died.

The Tentacles of Abuse

Like jellyfish, abuse has long tentacles.  Rather than extending into deep water, those tentacles extend across the years.  But their sting can still be agony.  Like the tentacles of jellyfish, the tentacles of abuse can paralyze, capture, and in some cases kill.

Real Wounds

Whether we suffer with physical ailments and visible scars or with depression, anxiety, and PTSD, the wounds stemming from our abuse are severe and real.  We are not weak.  We are not malingering.

It is, in some ways, easier when our wounds can be seen by the naked eye.  Burns are recognizable as such.  By contrast, the wounds of many abuse victims cannot be bandaged or sutured.  Invisible, those wounds can yet be deadly.

Long-Term Damage

Because it was inflicted early in our lives, while we were most vulnerable, the damage done by abuse is long-lasting and multi-faceted.  Victims must endure it for decades, across the full range of life activities.  This can be exhausting.

Eventually, we may feel overwhelmed by anxiety or depression, as if we were drowning; may feel trapped by our past, despite our best efforts; may feel wrongly that ending our lives is the only way out.

Swallowed Whole

The prophet, Jonah felt something of this.  He had been directed by God to preach to the people of Ninevah, known for their ferocity.  In an attempt to avoid what seemed certain death, Jonah booked passage on a ship headed in the opposite direction.

He did not get far.  To calm a storm which threatened the ship, Jonah asked to be thrown overboard, and was swallowed whole by what the Bible calls “a great fish”.

We all know the story.  Jonah prayed for deliverance, agreed to carry out God’s command, and three days later was deposited – alive – on Ninevah’s shore.  His mission to the city proved successful.

These days, people dispute the details of the story.  The lesson, however, is clear.  Jonah’s task was as much about his own faith, as it was about the spiritual welfare of Ninevah.

” ‘I called out to the Lord, out of my affliction, And He answered me; Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and You heard my voice.  For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the floods surrounded me; All Your waves and Your billows passed over me…Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God’ ” (Jonah 2: 2-3, 6).

With God’s help, we can survive abuse.  He walks with us through the darkest nights and the stormiest seas.  God can find us, even if we have been swallowed whole.

Jellyfish, by the way, are susceptible to a variety of predators.  These include marine birds like gulls, large fish like sharks, swordfish, and tunas, sea turtles, and other species of jellyfish.  Medical attention is highly recommended.  But a sting can be treated with vinegar in a pinch.

Originally posted 7/17/16



Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse

13 responses to “Jellyfish

  1. This is the absolute truth, “the tentacles of abuse can paralyze, capture, and in some cases kill.”

    The invisible wounds can continue to sting over the decades. But with Christ a healing touch to the body, mind, and emotions is possible. God bless you.

  2. Yes, we carry the wounds of abuse our whole lifetime but Christ is our comfort and strength when the wounds ache and bleed.

  3. Das ist absolute richtig: “Die Tentakel des Missbrauchs können lähmen, gefangen nehmen und in einigen Fällen töten.”

  4. I well understand jellyfish.

    On Sunday, November 6, 2022, ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving

    • I hope that understanding is not the result of firsthand experience, Cathy. If so, my heart sincerely goes out to you. I, too, know “jellyfish” (the metaphorical kind) firsthand. But God has sustained me, despite that. May He give you strength, as well.

  5. Great analogy! We do make it and our scars remain. Thanks!

  6. Pingback: Jellyfish – NarrowPathMinistries

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