One of the things I relearned about myself while I was in hospital is that I love food. I like Thai cuisine. I love prawns. I love sushi. Basically if it’s foreign or fish related, I’m interested. Unfortunately while I waited for my bowel to unblock, I was not allowed to eat or drink anything for 4 weeks.
Now hear me on this, I think fasting is one of the most powerful methods to help us connect with God but I’ll be honest, I was not into this unplanned and unsolicited 30 day Esther fast. I’ve never even done the standard 3 day version!
As a result of this enforced starvation, I craved food. When I woke up in the middle of the night struggling to sleep for pain, anxiety or both, I’d watch YouTube videos about food. People chopping and eating sweet yellow mangoes, the juices dripping down their arm. I missed mangoes so much. In particular I was desperate for a Zimbabwean variant I hadn’t eaten in years called the bull mango. It’s the king of mangoes as far as I’m concerned.
When I was a child, my grandfather had a bull mango tree and if he saw any one of the grandchildren climbing up in search of a piece of that yellow goodness, he’d spring off his armchair and chase us away with his walking stick – much like you might do if you see foxes rummaging through your bins. On the very odd occasion however, he’d summon you to sit with him by the porch and he’d pull out one of the delicious forbidden fruit and give it to you with strict instructions not to tell anyone. I wonder if he did that with all his grandchildren.
Anyway, back to my starvation. I had also developed a particular craving for Ghanaian food. I’d watch YouTubers make Fufu and Light Pepper soup, Ampele and Palava sauce, fried plantain or perhaps Banku and fried fish.
So intense was my obsession with Ghanaian food that I made a deal with one of the Ghanaian nurses who occasionally looked after me that as soon as my bowel opened, she’d bring me some fufu and pepper soup.
Looking back, my food cravings reminded me of the Israelites in their wilderness. God had freed them from 300 years of slavery in Egypt yet as he was leading them to the promise land, they lamented the very little good Egypt had offered them.
“And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.” Numbers 11: 4-6
The children of Israel grumbled. It’s like a freed prisoner complaining to his pro bono Lawyer that he missed the free meals and showers he received when he was incarcerated. Their grumbling didn’t please God.
My particular wilderness was different to that of the Israelites in that God had not delivered me from slavery but in fact I was still waiting for him to heal/ deliver me. However looking back, I did not really take time to ask God what he was doing in that season of my life but instead lamented a mango I hadn’t eaten for at least a decade and fufu and pepper soup that I’ve eaten probably 5 times since we left Ghana in 1991.
Personally, I believe it’s ok to bring our frustrations and pain to God. The book of Psalms and Lamentations of full of people expressing their pain, anguish, disappointments, anxieties and fears. But I believe the key is to bring it all to God, trusting that because He started the journey with you, he’ll carry you through it and bring you out the other end. The bible encourages us this healthier way of expressing our fears to God.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 6-7
In case you’re wondering, since leaving hospital, I’ve eaten fufu and pepper soup once and that was at least a year and a half after my hospital release. I’m still waiting to eat a bull mango and after all that fuss, I’m not too bothered!
To be continued…