By Lee Strobel, in The Case for Miracles, 2018.
In Equatorial Africa, far from pharmacies and hospitals, a woman died in childbirth, leaving behind a grieving two-year-old daughter and a premature baby in danger of succumbing to the chill of the night. With no incubator, no electricity, and few supplies, the newborn’s life was in jeopardy.
A helper filled a hot water bottle to maintain the warmth desperately needed by the infant, but suddenly the rubber burst—and it was the last hot water bottle in the village.
A visiting missionary physician from Northern Ireland, Dr. Helen Roseveare, asked the orphans to pray for the situation—but a faith-filled ten-year-old named Ruth seemed to go too far.
“Please, God, send us a water bottle,” she implored. “It’ll be no good tomorrow, God, the baby’ll be dead; so please send it this afternoon.” As if that request was not sufficiently audacious, she added, “And while You are at it, would You please send a dolly for the little girl so she’ll know You really love her?”
Recalled Roseveare, “I was put on the spot. Could I honestly say, ‘Amen’? I just did not believe that God could do this. Oh, yes, I know that He can do everything. The Bible says so, but there are limits, aren’t there?”
The only hope of getting a water bottle would be from a parcel sent from the homeland, but she had never received one during the almost four years she had lived there. “Anyway,” she mused, “if anyone did send a parcel, who would put in a hot water bottle? I live on the equator!”
A couple of hours later, a car dropped off a twenty-two-pound package. The orphans helped open it and sort through the contents: some clothing for them, bandages for the leprosy patients, and a bit of food.
Oh, and this: “As I put my hand in again, I felt the . . . could it really be? I grasped it, and pulled it out. Yes. A brand-new rubber, hot water bottle!” said Roseveare. “I cried. I had not asked God to send it; I had not truly believed that He could.”
With that, little Ruth rushed forward. “If God has sent the bottle, He must have sent the dolly too!” she exclaimed.
She dug through the packaging and found it at the bottom of the parcel: a beautifully dressed doll. Asked Ruth, “Can I go over with you, Mummy, and give this dolly to that little girl, so she’ll know that Jesus really loves her?”
That parcel had been packed five months earlier by Roseveare’s former Sunday school class. The leader, feeling prompted by God, included the hot water bottle; a girl contributed the doll.
And this package, the only one ever to arrive, was delivered the same day Ruth prayed for it with the faith of a child.
As many other Emailmeditations have made abundantly clear, miracles do not always immediately happen in response to our prayers. As made abundantly clear in this story, sometimes God does respond with a miracle. We pray, and then we trust God, leaving everything in His hands.
Matthew 17:20 — (Jesus said), “… Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Matthew 26:36 — Going a little farther, Jesus fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup (of suffering) be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
–Jesus, Matthew 6:10b