Pickle Heaven Press-James R. Johnson

something to help you laugh and think about life with Christ

fingerless — January 11, 2022


They slit the hand that fed them! 

My wife and I visited our missionary friends who served the people of Irian Jaya (now called Papua.)  The island rests in the South Pacific, with the Great Barrier Reef between it and Australia.  

It is the most primitive place on earth.  There are remote tribes there whose basic tools are made from stone. 

The men sit around their huts, tending to a few gourds which they use for underpants (don’t ask).  Everything else is done by the women.

Women build and repair their homes, handmake their clothes and weave tote bags out of tree bark.  They bear their children then carry them around as they work.

Most of their time is devoted to the sweet potato patch.  They plant, hoe, weed, harvest, cook and serve the tubers.  They eat this essential at every meal.

But here’s the thing, the Irian Jayans believe that the prosperity of their fields is controlled by the spirit world.  If the spirits are happy, the harvest is plentiful.

So, when a person dies there, they feel the need to pacify the spirit of the deceased.  The family does this by slicing off a finger of the closest female relative-all the way down to the knuckle without an anesthetic.

We encountered a number of women who were missing fingers.  Some of the older ones had maybe one or two left.

How crazy!   How could those women cultivate their crops with maimed fingerless hands?

How could the tribe prosper when they systematically disabled their primary workforce?

Please forgive the pun but: they slit the hand that fed them. 


So, who it is that causes our nation to prosper? 

The answer is hidden in the Old Testament book of Jeremiah.   In chapter 18, the Lord had a conversation with the prophet about the nations.  He said,

“There are times, Jeremiah, when I threaten to uproot, tear down, and destroy a nation or kingdom. 8 But if that nation I threatened stops doing wrong, I will cancel the destruction I intended to do to it. 9 And there are times when I promise to build up and establish a nation or kingdom. 10 But if that nation does what displeases me and does not obey me, then I will cancel the good I promised to do to it.”   Jeremiah 18:7-10 NET Bible ®

These words are unsettling because though they are Old Testament, they are not limited to the nation of Israel.  The Lord speaks of every nation and of the timeless principles by which He manages those nations.

It is God who determines whether a nation is built up or torn down, established or uprooted, flourishes or is destroyed.  His judgment is not capricious or partial but is rendered in direct response to the way a nation responds to God. 

He expects a nation to honor Him and abide by the truth He has revealed in His Word.  (vs.10)

It seems to me that the United States has been lavishly blessed – pretty much from her beginning.  Even today, while people scamper to escape other nations, they seek refuge in the USA. Why is this?

The God of the Bible has had a rich and comprehensive influence on how we have developed as a nation.  His Word has been welcomed and honored in our founding documents and our collective values.  It would seem that we are one of those fortunate nations that the Lord has chosen to build up and establish. 

But these days, I wonder if we may be taking a cue from Irian Jayans? 

We seem intent on pacifying the spirit of secularism – by cutting out the God that has prospered us.  

Hmmm.  Not good!

A PRAYER: Lord turn our hearts back to You; every heart back to You. 

This has been Jim Johnson with pickleheavenpress.com 

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

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