There is a Balm in Gilead

Jeremiah laments a lot for the daughters of Judah. He is the one who speaks of Rachel weeping for her children. This prophecy was fulfilled when Herod went on his murderous spree to remove all trace of the Messiah. His lament is almost 600 years earlier, but the words hang over Judea like a wet blanket. Mothers wailing for their sons, no home left untouched.

Is there no balm in Gilead?

I had always thought this balm was a figure of speech but it is a real thing. There is actually a balm, similar to our shea butter, ghee, Avocado oil, tea tree oil. It has amazing healing properties for the body. You get the drift. Though I shall stick with my figure of speech, thank you very much.

Every mum has that quick fix or go to balm for aches, pains and colds. For most mums, it was Vicks. That is until Dragon balm came. My mum used it as the cure of all things! Ha ha! You have a cold? Dragon balm. You have a headache? Dragon Balm. You are just out of sorts. Dragon Balm. It had such a strong scent, you went around smelling like a peppermint tree. And guess what? It worked.

22 Is there no balm in Gilead, Is there no physician there? Why then is there no recovery For the health of the daughter of my people?

Jeremiah 8:22 NKJV

Is there no balm in Gilead? Will I never have relief from this cold? Will this headache never end? Will I never wake up without pain all over? Is there no balm in Gilead?

Dr. Luke does not record her name, clearly client confidentiality did not start recently. This woman has been bleeding for twelve years. She had gone through all of Judea looking for the balm in Gilead. With every visit to the doctors, her hopes were raised and with every visit her hopes were dashed. Because even though she had spent all the money as required and done all she needed to do, the bleeding did not stop. She did not have a regular cycle. She did not have children. She only had those bloody menstrual clothes to look at each day. Those bloody menstrual cloths to smell each day. Those bloody menstrual clothes to wash each day. Those bloody menstrual cloths to ask her every day, is there no balm in Gilead?

Is there no balm in Gilead? Your situation remains unchanged, despite doing all you can. Your health deteriorates, there is no relief from pain. You feel drained and tired, there is no comfort.

Jesus is on His way to heal Jairus’ daughter. She has heard about Him, the Great Teacher. Some say He is the Messiah. The Messiah whom Herod did not kill. If He is indeed the Messiah, she thinks, I shall be healed. There is no more thought about protocols and cleansing laws. The opportunity is now.

She crawls into the crowd.

And touches the Hem of Jesus’ garment. Immediately, the blood stops flowing. Is this true? She can feel it, but she has to get away to check and confirm. Then Jesus stops and asks that question, ‘Who touched Me?’

The woman with the issue of blood. Photo credit: Pinterest

Oohhh, the dread. I am fine now, can we all just get along with our lives? You know it’s me, Jesus. I know it’s you, let’s just move on. Jesus stops and is almost dismissive of Peter’s questions.

She stands up and walks to Him. There must have been a hush falling on the crowd as they recognized her. Jesus speaks to her. The unclean one. The one who had spent most of her life in isolation. He exhorts her to be of good cheer! Stand up, Rise up, your faith has made you well.

It’s over. She can go home and have dinner with her family. She can smile again. She can laugh again. There is a balm in Gilead. His name is Jesus, He heals and makes you whole. He is the Balm that keeps on healing. Laughter is good medicine. The Balm of Gilead not only soothes, He brings recovery.

Be of good cheer and come to Jesus. He will heal your sin-sick soul. He will heal your ailing body. He will make you laugh.

Shut up! Do as you’re told, boy

Breonna Taylor. No-knock search warrant. No defense. her own home. Louisville, Kentucky. 26 yrs old.

Ahmaud Arbery. Jogging. Near Brunswick, Georgia.  25 years old.

George Floyd. Alleged counterfeit $20 bill. I can’t breathe. 8.46 mins on Minneapolis tarmac. 46 years old.

Credit: Internet

Young and black. Their deaths have sparked very many protests and conversations across the world on racism and prejudice.

The silencing of their voices is the echo of our very own. I write this to mourn that no matter how loud our voices have been, they have not been loud enough. Centuries after chicken George, we still hear ‘shut up boy and dribble!’

I got to school, late. The parade was in session. I rushed to greet the headmaster, curtsied, and run to join the line. One of my friends created a gap for me and my big, heavy bag. Such a kind girl. We were singing hymns, everyone had their hymn book. The prefects were walking through the line to pull out those without theirs. I thrust my hand into the front pocket of my bag, it wasn’t there! A more frantic check, still not there. Maybe the main bag, nope. I was pulled out of the line.

I was placed in another line, in front of the main gate to await the Deputy. After parade, we trudged off to her office. Heavy bags, heavy hearts. We had to wait outside her office. By this time, the first period of class was midway. She came and we shuffled in one by one. I was the last, she called me in. She asked me to apologize for forgetting the hymn book. She did not want to hear any explanation. The problem was I wanted to explain. I believed that if she heard my explanation, she would understand that it was not my intention to leave it behind but I forgot. To err is human. Not quite. She quickly changed her tone and told me to hold out my hands for a beating. Well…that is it. I put them out and she whacked them with her stick. And whacked them some more. Then she asked me to thank her. I was so angry, I could not even imagine that she would think I should be grateful. Angry tears stung my eyes. I kept blinking them away, she was unrelenting. I kept quiet. My sullen face did not go down well with her, she insisted I stay outside her office as a lesson in gratefulness.

And so it was, that towards break time, my class teacher finds me standing there. Having cried my heart out, tear soaked hankie and red swollen eyes. He asked me what I was doing out there. She answered. He managed to convince her to release me. I was free to go to class. But never free to be. She hunted me down. When I was late to school, I was sent back home. It didn’t matter that I had to walk back. One PTA, she made me the topic of the meeting to the angst of my mother. Calling me out. Yelling at me. For the rest of my life in school, she made my life a living hell.

At eleven years, minuscule. I live. I got life. For Breonna, Philando, George and Ahmaud, a lifetime. quickly snuffed out. Only a memory.

Cry, my beloved Africa. Weep for the lost sons and daughters who thought it not freedom till the motherland was free. Whose voices grow fainter while ours grow stronger.

Don’t forget that we are your beloved ones. Wrap us back into your heart again, for you chose us. You brought us out of our slavery and bondage and made us your favored ones, your Zion-people, your home on earth.

A Psalm of Asaph. Psalm 74: 1-2 TPT

Through a glass darkly

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
1 Corinthians 13:12 KJV

This week, we celebrate National Fertility Awareness Week. My story has been long in coming, here we are.

Photocredit: Pintrest

Where does one start this story, I guess from the onset of my menses. I was 12 years old, on my way to cookery classes, it was raining. I thought this is really an odd place for rain to drip through. When I got to my cousin’s apartment, right next to the cookery school, I rushed to the bathroom, checked and there was the dreaded red stain. The stain that made girls wear sweaters around their waists all through class. The stain that caused giggles among boys and attracted stares during lunchtime.

I thanked God, there were no stares. Only the privacy of my cousin’s bathroom. I cleaned up and used a makeshift pad from toilet paper. I was not sure how to tell my cousin, we had never talked about these things. Strange now that I think about it. I just needed to get through the day and tell mummy. And so it was, mummy was so excited. I, on the other hand, I am perplexed about what she is going on all about. My parents took us out for Chinese lunch, we did this every Saturday, this time though it was a celebration of my becoming a woman. There I am marveling, wow, who knew this came through that stain. I should be shouting it on the rooftops, like some sort of trophy.

They set me on the coolest path. I decided this would be the heritage for my daughters. No fear. No shame. Just a celebration of womanhood.

Celebrate it was until I got into an all-girls boarding school and the drudgery began. We had pit latrines but because pads do not decompose, the pits would fill up. It was expensive and dangerous to empty them frequently. So it was decided that we get pad bins, and use the incinerators to burn them up. Walking with a smelly, bloody pad from the latrine to the bin. The smell when they burnt…..not cool. Not cool at all. My mum totally unfazed, did not blink as I lamented and suggested tampons. And it was bliss once again. I still had to live with the smell of burning pads but c’est la vie!

Most of my peers had very predictable patterns, they knew when their menses started and ended. They also knew when they were ovulating. It was fascinating to watch them, like little examples in textbooks.

I, on the other hand, never to be bothered. When they came, we called her, Auntie Flow. When auntie Flow visited, she was well received. If she did not visit, there were all manner of reasons; stress, anxiety, diet, too much exercise, not enough exercise…or just phew…I had run out of tampons anyway. This went on till I met a guy.

He came from a family with so many girls, so many aunts, so many female cousins. He was all too familiar with the cycles. He thought it was not normal. I was like, tell me something, I don’t know. He says, gynecologists, fix this. The last time I had visited a gyn, had been about hemorrhoids and he had done a great job relieving my pain and I didn’t have them anymore.

Let’s. I said and off we went to visit a young but very good gyn. Dr. Pius Okongo. He had an awesome bed side manner. It was like this could be resolved by drinking water. Such a great person to meet. He asks me to chart my cycle, apparently it was something I should have done. Who knew. I take the chart home and start. Hahaha. I don’t know what that was, over six months, nothing looked like the other. I thought, well he is the expert, he will make sense of it.

You are laying eggs, was the easiest way he could explain what was going on. In his estimation, it was a miracle, I even had menses because not only did the eggs have a mind of their own. The two hormones were not talking to each other. I wish I had paid more attention in Biology. Maybe studied medicine. This would be so easy to understand. The good news was there were options to try to correct all his. He says all these things like he is telling you to go get water from the dispenser. How I wish.

Hormonal therapy is a nightmare. I got all the symptoms, I was a walking diary of a mad black woman, Godzilla, and sullen Sally. I gained weight and proceeded to shed it all off, I went from a size 16 to a size 8. My skin broke out and I darkened. As you can imagine, the jury was out. What is happening to you? Are you well? Urm, yes, just hormonal. Eventually, the guy could not take it, I think and out he walked. At this point, I am on some injection that is imported specifically for me. I get a prescription from Dr. Pius and head off to National Medical Stores, buy it and go back to the clinic to be injected. I had crazy hot flushes for over two years, after stopping the injection. I had to change my diet, I became allergic to chocolate. Dairy caused bloating. I love dairy, it makes me so happy to stuff myself with all manner of cheese. I could only look at it wistfully. No more chocolate, no more cake, no more ice cream.

What is life to me without thee?

Dr Pius, asked me, whether we were trying for a baby? I am looking at him like, we who is we? I am here to correct a cycle. He advised that I did not need to have a text book cycle but rather regular pattern. And it changes all the time, so the best time to come would be when trying for a baby. I thank God for Dr. Pius. I walked out a liberated woman. There would be no more hormone therapy for me.

“I am prepared to die in the army of Jesus.” Janani Luwum

Photo Credit: The Monitor Publications

Today is Janani Luwum day. We set aside days so we never forget what is important. Janani Luwum was the Archbishop of Anglican Church of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Boga (Zaire) from 1971-1977.

In 1971, Field Marshall Idi Amin Dada became President of the Republic of Ugands through a coup de tat. The deposed President, Dr. Apollo Milton Obote was being hosted as an exile in Tanzania. There was trouble everywhere in Uganda including the borders with Tanzania. The army purges to cleanse the army of troops deemed hostile to the President were ongoing. The purges later spread to all Luo speakers and later to all professionals. Israelis were expelled. Indians were expelled.

Janani, together with Festo Kivengere, and other bishops stood up to Idi Amin. I thought this post would be about Janani alone but it is not possible for me to separate the two. Like Paul and Luke, their voices blended into one voice that challenged illegal detentions and extra judicial killings because they believed in a God who is just and good. They believed that their leaders should be good and just. They did this in sermons, in meetings with the President, in books, in their living rooms, in their prayers.

Janani is quoted as saying, we need to be Jesus to these people. Which people? The ones looking for their loved ones. The ones on the run. The ones facing injustice. The ones being hunted down. The ones no one cared about. They needed to be a voice of the distressed nation to a leader whose ears had dulled to his people.

Janani was ‘implicated in a coup’ arrested and murdered. Even in death, his memory was slandered- The government of the day said he was an escaped convict, killed in the act of escape. Festo left his cherished Uganda and became a refugee in exile. He later wrote a book, ‘I love Idi Amin.’

Church, I would like us to take a moment to consider the cost of our faith. On this day, what are you willing to stand for?

Who will be Christ to the hungry? Orphaned by corruption and greed. Who will be Christ to the thirsty? Watching the filth from our industries roll past their homes.

Who will be Christ to the naked? The victims of violence clothed in shame and ridicule.

Who will be Christ to the homeless? Carrying their boxes from street to street searching for a spot on the street to call home.

Who will be Christ to the sick? Searching for a doctor, a teacher,who is working three jobs to make ends meet? The leaders with more questions than answers. With solutions that come up short of the mark, every single time.

The despairing, crushed and lifeless youth stuck in the wheel of life rolling on. Filling up the mental wards. Trudging aimlessly from town to town.

Who will be Christ to the prisoner? Chained by impossible dreams. Crushed by unfulfilled hopes.

What is the price of your faith?

By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.
Hebrews 11:24‭-‬26 NKJV

Moses is a witnesses of our faith, he left the passing comforts of Pharaoh’s household to suffer with God’s people. Have Pharaoh’s comforts veiled your eyes, Bride of Christ?

Will you accept the status quo or will you rise as the Son of God creation is anticipating?

Blindsided?

Well laid out plans crumble within seconds. Our carefully crafted facade melts in minutes. Everything we have spent our lives building is taken away in our hours. Our friends stab us in the back, intimate discussions splashed all over media, dirty linen washed on Oxford street.

God, where were you? You had this all wrapped up to a t! How did this happen on your watch? Everything is spinning out of control. Emotions, negative and ugly emotions, overwhelm you, suck you into deep dark days as you realize, you were an object of a power play. You were left open at the flanks. You were blindsided.

And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7 NKJV.

The prophets had foretold the birth, Isaiah actually foretold it in amazing detail. Hundreds of years before He was born. And so far, everything had gone according to plan. Even Micah’s prophecy about Bethlehem, by Augustus’ decree, they were no longer home in Nazareth but home in Bethlehem. How did they find themselves with only a manger as a crib? Yet it had been planned with meticulous detail? The three Kings were on their way, following a star. For two years. Is it possible that God could miss out such an important detail? Mary needed a room at the inn to give birth to her baby or a room at grandmas? Surely, someone should be kind to the expecting mother.

Or was it the beginning of rejection? Of insignificance? Isaiah prophesies that there is nothing attractive about Him. He is so ordinary, we shall miss Him. Micah calls out Bethlehem as the least of the cities. Isn’t He the son of David, the shepherd forgotten in the fields when the Prophet Samuel came to visit? Simeon tells Mary a sword will pierce her heart, is this the sword being positioned? Isaiah describes Him as A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, has the journey to being that man already started?

Paul encourages the Corinthians as he himself was encouraged, when you are weak, God’s strength and power is perfected and complete in you. He reminds the Romans, it is while you were ungodly, without strength that Christ died for you. John describes Jesus as the light that darkness cannot comprehend. When we are blindsided, we are God shielded; God wrapped; In the manger is where we find that light cannot be hidden.

Glory to God in the Highest and peace to all on earth.