For the past year or so, our ministry has been working each week in one of the semi-rural villages of South Africa. One of the ladies, who attends a Bible study that we sponsor in the village, gave birth last November to a premature little boy. Ofonzo has had ongoing physical struggles. He was born with fluid surrounding his brain. His head is swollen and extremely large hiding his beautiful face, dark wide eyes, tulip lips, and soft tiny ears. He rarely cries and eats very little. His limbs are extremely thin. His is obviously malnourished and declining in health. Because he appears deformed, he is often kept hidden away, covered completely in cloths so no one can see him.
Ofonzo's mother has taken him to the hospital numerous times. On one such visit the clinic didn't have a specialist available. At another visit, the doctors were on strike. Last week, in an attempt to help, I ventured to a local clinic looking for advice on what to do.
I arrived late in the day, and the doctor was hurried and short with me. "I once was a child and now I am an adult," were her words. "This is Africa. People suffer.You must get used to it. There is no help to be had." She blamed the current president and others in political office, and then told me that the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.
I understand that as a doctor she has probably seen horrible suffering, and, at times, felt at a loss on how to help. There are limited supplies, medications and assistance available here. Yet, from my perspective, I don't ever want to grow up and be an adult who gets used to suffering and feels no need to help.
The Lord gives and the Lord takes; victory and struggle, life and death are part of every person's earthly journey, but to quote this one verse from the Book of Job in the midst of tragedy, without acknowledging other spiritual principles, doesn't seem fair. Life isn't always easy, but it's important to remember that in the Book of Job the giving proceeded the taking. What about the passages that discuss God's great love for mankind? His compassion for children? His displeasure at those who harm (ignore, withhold, experience indifference) toward others, especially the innocent - or the fact that we live in a fallen world and that it was never God's design for people to suffer.
There is always hope. Ofanzo was at church with his family yesterday. The church prayed and sang over him. It was a blessing for the "children of God" to surround this beautiful baby and to pray for a miracle to the Lord who gives so much. Tomorrow Ofanzo has an appointment to see a specialist. We're asking Jesus to touch Ofanzo's small body and to bring healing. Would you please join us in prayer?