But I am a worm…

Tree used by Tola worm to lay eggs

Why choose a worm for a topic? I have to turn back the clock many years to the first time I heard the explanation of – “But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people,” (Psalm 22: 6).  I was at a Bible College. The lecturer explained the word used here was for a special worm, one from which crimson dye was made. Crimson was a color so expensive only kings (and high priests) wore it. I remembered it, but never heard anyone else mention this fact… till recently.

Psalm 22 is generally seen as a crucifixion psalm and as we approach this time of year, twice recently I have heard my almost forgotten fact mentioned. A friend, who calls regularly every weekend, told me excitedly of a sermon she had heard in church. It was about the tola worm. I smiled, my memory was not faulty, I had remembered correctly.

Then I logged in to an online Bible Study, and what was the topic? You have probably guessed.

“But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people.” Psalm 22: 6

Once again, after many years, I was fascinated.

Most of us know what a worm looks like… some of us might squirm. Others might use the earthworm as bait for fishing, However, a closer look at the original language shows that this is not the word that is used here.

Usually in the Bible, the Hebrew word for a worm is “rimmah” which means a maggot – but the Hebrew word used here for worm, is TOLA’ATH, (Tola: latin name coccus ilicis]) which means “Crimson worm” or “Scarlet worm”. It looks more like a grub than a worm.

The Tola (crimson) worm

There is more to this worm than meets the eye

When it is time for the Tola worm to lay eggs (which she does only one time in her life), she finds the trunk of the Quercus coccifera, the kermes oak and attaches her body to it and makes a hard crimson shell.  She is so strongly and permanently stuck to the wood that the shell she has formed can never be removed without tearing her body completely apart.

The Tola worm then lays her eggs under her body in the protective shell. When the larvae hatch, they stay under the shell. The mother’s body gives protection for her babies, and also provides them with food – the babies feed on the LIVING body of the mother!

After a few days, when the young worms grow to the point that they are able to take care of themselves, the mother dies. As the Tola worm dies, she oozes a crimson or scarlet red dye which not only stains the wood she is attached to, but also her young children. They are colored scarlet red for the rest of their lives.

After three days, the dead mother Crimson worm’s body loses its crimson color and turns into a white wax which falls to the ground like snow. This was collected and used as shellac to protect wood.

Jesus as a Tola worm

Just like the Crimson worm, Jesus sacrificed or gave up his life on a tree so that his children might be washed with his crimson blood and their sins cleaned white as snow. He died for us, that we might live through him!

The minister leading the Bible study gave many cross-references to scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments.

This is not my purpose – to repeat a Bible Study, merely to share an interesting fact… one that might give you a different understanding of that scripture. Or, as it did for me, confirm something I was taught a long time ago.

Sharing some thoughts,


The Oddest Things Can and Do, Bring Comfort

featured for crucifixion blog, breathless

Whether or not you are a Christian, you have probably heard of crucifixion.

At this time of year, many Christians are thinking of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, while many others think of Easter eggs and bunny rabbits. I will not go into the origin of the latter two here. Instead, I want to share with you how reading the details of what crucifixion was like helped me when my husband was dying over four years ago.

I will explain.

When my husband was told he was in end-stage pulmonary fibroses, it was neither a surprise, nor was it a pleasant diagnosis. This disease is always fatal. The ‘not a surprise’ was because he had been struggling to breathe for many years, while the hospital consultant at the time did not tell us the disease had a name. The ‘not a pleasant diagnosis’ was until then, with a new consultant did we know there was an ‘end-stage.’

High doze humidified oxygen

It was hard to see my husband struggle for each breath, even when he was in hospital receiving 25+ litres per minute oxygen. Then reason I put the + there is because sometimes it needed to go much higher.

The respiratory consultant explained that, in effect, his lungs were smothering him.

A trial at home, with a pair of linked oxygen concentrators, was unsuccessful and he ended up in a hospice, where he died three weeks later.

oxygen concentrators at home

The connection with the crucifixion.

Let me first assure you that my husband was not crucified, nor did I think what he went through was the same as Christ suffered.

No, the connection was when I read an article that described what happened in a crucifixion.

Quoting from the article –

“Once the victim was fastened to the cross, all his weight was supported by three nails, which would cause pain to shoot throughout the body. The victim’s arms were stretched out in such a way as to cause cramping and paralysis in the chest muscles, making it impossible to breathe unless some of the weight was borne by the feet. In order to take a breath, the victim had to push up with his feet. In addition to enduring excruciating pain caused by the nail in his feet, the victim’s raw back would rub against the rough upright beam of the cross.

After taking a breath and in order to relieve some of the pain in his feet, the victim would begin to slump down again.”

There is a lot more, but it is not ‘easy’ reading. You can find the full article here…

I did not pray for my husband to be healed. I prayed for God to help him. He had endured years of the nightmare of this condition. (He was a great ‘study’ for the respiratory registrars, but never a ‘name’ for the condition given.)

When I read that article – yes, it was emotional – but finally I knew how to pray for my husband.

Crucifixion of Jesus, the Christ

In that costly death of Jesus Christ, one of the many agonies He went through was not being able to breath. Until that time I had never thought of the crucifixion in this way. But it showed me that Christ knew what my husband was going through, He had been through it. This gave me comfort and helped me pray.

I have blogged before about Pulmonary Fibrosis. There is no cure, but there is a lot more support now than there was then.

I also put together a spiral-bound book on Geoff’s Last Journeyings, it was for family and close friends. Actually, I don’t have a copy.

after death from Pulmonary Fibrosis

Recently, I attended the bi-monthly club I belong to, and, because of the time of year, talked about the immense price Christ paid for us.

One other lady had lost her husband to breathing problems, and we talked about the comfort it was to know Christ knew what our husbands had gone through.

The oddest things can, and do, bring comfort.

PS If you want to read more about Pulmonary Fibrosis here is a link…
I see that with current treatments life-expectancy after diagnosis has increased. It is now 3 – 5 years. When my husband was dying it was 2 – 3 years, although he was blessed with longer. (And so was I in having that extra time with him.)

God bless 🙂

This is the last, honestly. Just wanted to mention that if you notice the header section looking odd – that’s because it is.

After a terminal error I had to ask the web-host to reinstall the last backup made by them. This backup was out of date.

Currently I am working in the ‘back-end’ changing things… some of those changes are filtering through and look strange. All will be revealed when everything is connected up.