I’ve been provoked. I’m angry. I have a righteous indignation.
It all started in one of the city’s many malls the other day. I was getting another charger for my cell phone (hopefully one that won’t break this time) and some groceries. As I finished, I was walking toward the taxi line to head back toward my part of town. As I approached one of the mall’s atria, I begin to hear familiar yet unexpected sounds in the distance. As it became clear what it was, I could scarcely believe my ears. There was a crowd gathering, many with arms raised up taking cell phone videos. All sorts of people had gathered on the marble floors, ranging from Indian men in T-shirts to Middle Eastern Arab women in full black abayya from head to toe.
In the center was a square contingent of Arab men dressed in full white traditional garb, with two opposite sides of the square of 4 men each holding bass drums and beating them; the other two opposite sides were men holding bagpipes.
As odd as this apparently un-called-for celebration seemed, I decided to hang around and see what was going on. I looked for an Arab man on the periphery to see if I could practice speaking some Arabic with him. I found one next to the shopping cart full of cold bottled waters. I struck up a conversation with him, and before long the guy was totally engaged, impressed that I knew a little bit of Arabic. The banter continued back-and-forth, and the man eagerly started introducing me to his other friends. The man, whom I will call Abraham, informed me he worked for one of the government agencies and that they were celebrating a national holiday for the nation’s women.
The conversation continued in broken English and Arabic. Next, he introduced me to a boy, Mo, whom I believe was (I’m not sure exactly what he was trying to describe) his nephew. The kid was about 12 years old; tall, gangly, with brown, slightly hollow eyes. I stuck out my hand to greet him.
Ana ismi Edward. Tasharafna.
The young man gave me a handshake but didn’t respond.
Abraham quickly jumped in to explain. “He is… how do you say it in English?… you know, ma yatakalum… and, uh, he don’t really hearing…”
“We would say he’s deaf and mute.”
Being one that believes in supernatural healing, and having seen more than one instance of it occur on the streets, I jumped at the opportunity. I navigated in the conversation for another few minutes as Abraham introduced me to yet more of his coworkers. Then I asked a crucial question.
“I follow Jesus—Isa Al-Masih. You know that Isa Al-Masih did many mooajeeza, you know, miracles? Praying healed my mother of years of headaches. Would it be OK if I said a prayer for Mo to be healed?”
Abraham was remarkably open to the idea. I lightly put my hand on Mo’s shoulder and prayed an earnest prayer for him.
As I finished, though, I could tell there was no immediate change.
Can you imagine what might have happened if the child had been healed? In a public place surrounded by government employees…
But nothing happened.
Honestly, when I think about the nature of my Father God and the way Jesus acted toward everyone he encountered, I cannot be satisfied with this outcome.
Truthfully, I don’t want to be consoled, either. I don’t need any of the “maybe it’s not God’s will this time” or “you planted a seed” pulp response.
There is a time for comfort. But it is not now.
I’ve been provoked. I’m angry. I have righteous indignation, and that necessitates a response in the place of prayer.
I’m not mad at myself. I’m not angry at God. I’m righteously indignant at the injustice of a child having to endure this pain unnecessarily, all the while healing being within grasp. I’m angry the child doesn’t get to hear the calming voice of his mother telling him she loves him. The preteen years of a child’s life are already difficult enough to navigate with all five senses… How much more tragic is it that young Mo must do so while having the social stigma of having a disability? My heart hurts for this child.
Do we really believe that signs and wonders follow the proclamation of the Good News? Do we really believe that Jesus holds the keys of death and the grave in his hands? Surely we must believe that his Words were true when he declared, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12 emphasis mine).
Mo is not the only one that needs a miracle. This nation has a disproportionately high rate of children born with autism and other similar birth defects. Walking around any of the 75 malls in this city, you’re almost more likely to see children than elderly persons being pushed around in wheelchairs.
Healing is available today. Today I’ll continue to pray. And tomorrow?
Tomorrow is a new day. Greater things might just happen.