Posts Tagged ‘old wives’ tales’

Jo 17There can be some scary moments in bringing up children. This past week, our one year old granddaughter began running very high temperatures and coughing in a weird way. In the end, she was diagnosed as having a chest infection, plus mild croup.

Our daughter contacted me to ask about an old remedy I used many years ago when her brother had croup as a two year old. Her question brought back vivid memories of holding our son in our steaming bathroom with the hot water turned on full, since we did not own a vaporiser. Then another memory surfaced of an elderly farmer’s wife telling me at church that our son had croup.

‘You need to get hold of an old flannel singlet, soak it in three parts water to two parts white vinegar to one part metho, then wrap it around his neck,’ she said. ‘I’ll bring some flannel around for you.’

True to her word, she did. I thanked her, not really believing what she said could ever work. Still, what did I have to lose? It was the weekend, with no doctor available back then. It seemed cruel to do this to our son when he was so unwell. Yet, to our great surprise, it worked—not only then, but at other times too when he had croup. That elderly farmer’s wife knew what she was talking about, as she passed that wisdom of generations onto me.

Eventually, I remembered the details of this old remedy and texted them to our daughter. In the end, she didn’t need them—our little Maxine bounced back and whatever the doctor had given her seemed to work. But I wondered too if our daughter had felt a little sceptical, as I had, about whether my old remedy would actually work.

Sometimes I think we respond a little like that when God shows us which way to go in our lives or how to respond in a particular situation. We know what we read in Scripture about forgiving someone is right. We sense God prompting us in our spirit to take some course of action but we decide we know better. We listen to the godly advice of someone we trust and agree that is what will work—yet we hesitate.

I have always found Isaiah 30 very challenging. Being a strong-willed person, I relate easily to those obstinate people back then who would not listen to God:

In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.  Isaiah 30:15

Instead, they tried to rescue themselves and flee, despite being told they would end up ‘like a flagstaff on a mountaintop’ (17).  Yet, all the while, God longed for them to turn to him and trust him.

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him. (18)

I think God knows the right remedy for our ailments, don’t you? After all, God’s been around a long time and knows a thing or two! May we all learn to listen to him more, to wait and trust, as we reap the benefits of his amazing grace and compassion in our lives.


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