One morning at our prayer time before we start work Muno told us that his young daughter had spilled boiling water all over her leg the night before as she was helping her mother cook supper. This is one of the most common accidents around the home in an African village, as the women cook over an open fire and there are always children around and helping with chores. I often walk up the mountain behind our house and Muno’s was on the way, so I stopped by. I met Happy, his little girl of about 10 years old, and I could immediately see that she had 1st to 3rd degree burns up and down her leg. The surgeons were all gone and no one could do anything for her at the hospital at this time, so they had given her some Panadol (paracetemol) for pain and sent her home. The leg looked terrible! There were two spots especially where the meat of her leg was showing through, looking like what we see hanging on a hook at the local open market, and I was really concerned that it would get infected and there would be complications.
I know Aloe Vera is good for burns and we have some growing outside our kitchen door, so I went to get some. When I returned to the house Cher said that we had a bottle of Aloe gel from the States that one of the visiting teams of volunteers had left for us. She brought it out and I took it down to Muno’s house. I spread the aloe liberally on the burns and told them to keep doing this each day till the gel was gone. Then we all gathered around and prayed for Happy’s healing. We showed the pictures I took of her burns to Warren, the missionary surgeon here, and he said she would need a couple of skin graft operations.
But that’s not what transpired. Look how it turned out, without another visit to a doctor, in the before and after pictures. It is quite amazing.
I have been thinking about this for a while now and have wondered what category to put it into. Happy’s speedy healing was a truly miraculous thing. But was it the prayers to a healing God, or the aloe, or what?
Here is what I have been thinking. My man, Matt Chandler, often talks about the “common graces” of God that are available to everyone, whether you believe in God or not. A beautiful sunset, a great steak and Cabernet, doctors and medicines, love and sex, the healing properties of the human body. They are all gifts from our creator God. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights,..” James 1:7. I put the aloe in that category.
But, my goodness, this was truly amazing! The chance of infection in such a big, deep wound, open to the air and dirt, with no bandage, is so great! And, in our area, the norm would have been for things to go horribly wrong. Why was this case so startlingly different?
What if we had not prayed? What if some generous friends from the States had not left us the aloe? What if I had not stopped to visit? Believe me, I am not trying to toot my own horn here. I pass up so many opportunities to make a difference, I could feel like a total failure, (if I had any feelings at all).
The thing is, little things do make all the difference. I keep thinking of the boy who had 5 rolls of bread and 2 fish and gave them to Jesus, who turned them into enough food to feed 5000 people and still have leftovers! Did Jesus really need the boy’s stuff? I don’t think so. Yet still Jesus asked for it. And the boy got to be a part of the miracle.
I really want to be more “in the game”, to do the little bit that falls to me whether it is to go visit, or pray, or give the gel, or whatever. I want to be all in.