“When God wants to bring more power into your life, He brings more pressure.”
My husband’s increasing pain with no resolve from his visit to the village down river had become a constant pre-occupation. Pressure, by definition, is a continuing opportunity for others to observe our true character.
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
II Corinthians 4: 17
Our appointment at the Center for Disease Control was early and to get into the Lab we needed to walk past a zoo-like structure that enclosed a number of caged odiferous monkeys.
They were loud and aggressive as we made our way to the foyer.
We were greeted by two of the staff that led us down a long corridor to a small room with jars of unspeakable contents lining the walls. After a series of tests and reviewing the hospital reports, these research doctors, who had been so kind to us, both had smiles of success on their faces.
“As incredible as this may seem, Ralph”, they started their calm but deliberate explanation, “somehow, you have broken into a cycle only seen in animals, specifically horses. You have Strongeloides, a parasite that burrows into the intestinal wall… and eats it! The reason the Coca-Cola gave you relief is because the parasite would not burrow its head in those few moments because they feed on sugar. So you were able to sense a temporary relief. This particular parasite is literally eating your intestinal wall!!”
Looking for a source of entry, one doctor asked to see Ralph’s feet. Ralph’s heels were deeply cracked and the parasite had entered into his system directly from the contaminated soil in the Choco settlement he had recently visited! As interested as Ralph was in the entire explanation, he is, after all, a “just gimme the bottom line” man. All he really wanted to know was “how do we kill these creatures?!”
The good newswas that there was a treatment…but…it was for horses! The bad news was they did not know if it would work on a human…or even…kill him?! They were very careful to explain that under no circumstances was he to take more than one teaspoon a day because the medicine was so toxic.
We needed to stay in Panama City another week for them to run a last test to see if the medicine had worked. After three days and no relief, Ralph looked at the girls, and me, and said, “It’s me or the bugs!” He, instantly, took the bottle, turned it upside down, emptying its entirety into his mouth! My heart started pounding…
Who does that???
He seemed fine for the first hour or so, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Then, abruptly, he became agitated and turned into the Hulk! Literally…he grabbed my arm and yelled something unintelligible. His wild eyes looked like the man who had broken into the borrowed house for cocaine a few days earlier!
What had he done?!
This strong, gentle man had become forceful and alarming.
Fortunately, we were still in the city, but it was too late to call the doctors.at the Lab. When morning broke we loaded into the borrowed vehicle and headed back to Gorgas Lab to see if Ralph had done something irreparable! He, however, was excited to let the doctors know that the massive dosage of the toxic vial had made him a crazy man …but had not killed him! The real issue: Did it kill the parasites?!
“Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it?
Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come? Why should any living man complain…”
Lamentations 3: 37-39
Needless to say, the doctors were horrified and shocked that he had taken the whole bottle, but were grateful that he had survived! They were anxious to test him for the parasite. We sat silently waiting for the test results. If the parasites lived through the toxic exposure there was no other treatment known to help us.
They quietly re-entered the room …gleaming!
Ralph had lived… and the bugs had died!!
During those days of excruciating pain, never once did Ralph complain. He was not suffering…just ask him! He gave thanks continually and even at his worst, submitted to the will of God.
“The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied;
he will not be visited by harm”
Psalm 19: 23
Pressure is the great tester of our spiritual condition… and “The greatness of a man’s power is the measure of his surrender.” (Wm. Booth)
How do you respond to pressure?
~Jackie Johnson - I am a former tribal missionary to the Kuna Indians on the Colombian border in Central America. Fluent in several languages, my husband and I currently pastor a Spanish-speaking church in Southern California. My passion is discipling and equipping dedicated young women for life, marriage, motherhood, and beyond. I am the mother of two daughters and the grandmother of three Princesses and four young Knights.