When I was ten or thereabout, I went to visit my grandmother while on a school break. It’s something I did more often than not. I even lived with her at some point. On this particular holiday my cousin visited as well. I had a playmate, partner in crime and a snitch all in my beautiful cousin. She had, still has, the kind of beauty that stands out anywhere. As per the norm, we did our chores, played games and visited neighbours in that order. This particular day was normal. At least it should have been.
It was 10pm and we all went to bed. I loved sharing a room with my cousin because it felt like a sleep over every day. After sleeping a short while, I began experiencing pain in my abdomen. It was somewhere under my rib cage but very close to my gut. It was a burning sensation. It was not a heartburn but something that was consuming me slowly but painfully. I slept like a rock; one of the many blessings of childhood. In my deep sleep I figured something ice cold would stop the pain. I put my hand on the cold wall and when it froze I put it on my tummy and felt better. A few minutes later the fire was back. Again the hand went out, froze, back on the tummy and back to sleep. Pain, fire, hand on the wall, back on the stomach, snooze.
Two hours later it felt as though acid was burning whatever was secured by the rib cage. I reached down to feel a hole in my skin. Thankfully there was none. The fire turned into an inferno. I started to pray God for forgiveness for having swept hurriedly in the morning just so I could beat my cousin to it. I begged him to forgive me for pouring water just outside the door yet my grandmother had categorically said that I pour it in the trench. I asked God to help my cousin forgive me for stealing pieces of meat from her plate. May be she had seen me. My grandmother had said that bad people would eventually be consumed with fire and from the pain I felt, it been had ignited it first in my stomach.
I called on my grandmother in the next room. She came and prayed for me and we went back to bed. It must have been the cold breeze in the air that gave me a few minutes of relief. Ten minutes later I was at my grandmother’s bedside telling her I was going to die. This time she grabbed her long, thick woolen sweater and helped me into my sneakers. She opened the door and it was pitch black. I had no idea where we were headed at midnight but when the matriarch said move, you ran.
We passed a few homes including her sister’s house but they were all asleep and we did not dare not wake them. We kept walking in silence. All the while I heard wild dogs, crickets and owls, barking, whistling and howling the night away. Then we stopped at a maisonette. I knew where we were. The village called this man, ‘teacher’. Someone in this house was a doctor, according to my grandmother and they were going to help us. We knocked on that door for what must have been thirty minutes with short interludes of my grandmother begging them to open the door. They never did. They told us to come back the next day. At this point I was so tired that I sat on their verandah as my grandmother gave her last plea.
She soon gave up as well.
Guess who got the door opened for them. The man in the bible (Matthew 6:5-13) who knocked on his neighbour’s door for loaves of bread but the friend turned him away. He insisted and finally the man opened the door and gave him what he had asked for. That’s according the greatest storyteller; Jesus Christ. The man was lucky. We were not. My grandmother yanked my hand in anger and told me that the God of Abraham, Moses and Jacob will attend to us. It is better said in Kikuyu. Ngai wa Abrahamu ,musa na yakubu niwe egukuhonia At that point, I did not care who healed me I just wanted the fangs of fire put out.
Then my grandmother did something weird and chose the perfect spot for it. We were right in the thick of the woods walking back home. No light in sight just the moon that dimly lit the night. She began to pray. She put her hand on my stomach. How did she know that cold made me feel better? My baby brain thought. She prayed for a couple of minutes where she gave God no choice but to heal me. When she was done, I woke up. It was like I had not felt pain anywhere in my body. The eerie of pain was done. I literally felt like I had been carrying hot coals in my stomach and someone poured water on them and the fire died out.
My grandmother knew I was healed. Not because I told her, she just knew. Without a word we walked so fast through the woods that we outran the imaginary snake behind us. Back home, she tucked me in and told me God loved me. The next day it was like nothing had happened. I swept the compound, fed the chicken, played and fought with my cousin and in the evening we visited our neighbours. Normal day. Years later I learned that it was my liver that had flared up.
You have prayed on your knees, your feet and everywhere you could. Your knuckles are bleeding from all the knocking you have done. You have read the word, professed it and claimed it. Keep praying in the thick of things and after you have done all you can, HE will come. Why does he allow you to go through all that you ask? If he is going to trust with you with his kingdom he needs to know you can handle it. Pray in the woods and walk away knowing it’s done.