This time of year it seems that everyone has the cruds. So, once I asked a group of senior citizens for some home remedies. They said, if a child has the cruds, put them in the shower, close the door, and get the bathroom steamy.
They shared lots of other home remedies. For example, put baking soda on a wasp sting. If you have a boil, put a piece of fat back on it. Ammonia is good for bug bites and jelly fish stings. If you have a migraine, put your feet in a basin of hot water and a bag of frozen vegetables on the back of your neck. If you have an eye infection, blink your eye in cold tea. The oddest one was, if you have a nose bleed, put a cold dinner knife between your shoulder blades. If you have the blues or you’re under stress, eat chocolate.
There’s a biblical story (2 Kings 20:1-17) about home remedies, sort of, home remedies and healing. The story is that good king, Hezekiah, is sick. He’s really sick. He is sick to the point that Hospice has been called in. They have said, “Call the family.”
Someone said, “Hezekiah, do you have a bucket list?”
“Yes, he said, “before I die I want to go to the Grand Canyon, I want to see the Taj Mahal, and I want to see an Alabama Football game (sorry I couldn’t resist).”
“Well, you don’t have much time. Better get started.”
The prophet Isaiah, gave his medical opinion: “You’re done.” (vs. 1). When you get a “thus says the Lord, you’re done,” then you’re done.
Instead of doing his bucket list. He prayed. I mean he really prayed. He wailed and wept and threw himself before God.
Well, something happened. The word of the Lord came to Isaiah the prophet again. This time it was: “Go back to the king and tell him that I have heard his prayers and seen his tears, and I will give him fifteen more years.”
Think of all the sick people you have known, who were at the point of death, and what they would have given for fifteen more years. In fifteen years, you could see your kids get married; you could see your grandchildren be born. Think how many more soccer games or football games for the grandkids you could see. Think how many more inspiring sermons you could hear! Who wouldn’t want fifteen more years?
After this declaration by God of the healing of Hezekiah, then Isaiah took a home remedy, a lump of figs, or as some might call it, a mess of figs, and put it on the boils. Well, low and behold, Hezekiah got well. So, Isaiah took a home remedy, put it on the sick spot, and then he got well.
At the same time that Isaiah is proclaiming that Hezekiah is healed, he is also prescribing medicine for Hezekiah’s illness. Isaiah gives God the credit for Hezekiah’s healing, but he also says that the ointment of figs must be applied to his sickness if he is going to get well.
It is the approach called, “Say your prayers and take your medicine.” In Hezekiah’s situation, medicine without prayer had not quite gotten it done, but Isaiah seemed to think that prayer without medicine wasn’t enough.
Medicine in that day, a lump of figs, was very primitive. A lump of figs then is now a CT scan, chemo, and radiation or at least an antibiotic.
The work of medicine was then, and is now a channel through which God’s healing grace is brought to those who are sick and suffering. I believe that God is on the side of healing whether through doctors, nurses, technicians, therapists, pharmacists, and the rest. They become channels through which God’s healing grace can flow to someone’s life.
Thank God that we have access to great medical care in this community. But don’t stop there; pray that the poor around the world can have the same.
It also wouldn’t hurt to keep a mess of figs handy, just in case.