- By Motunrayo Famuyiwa-Alaka
I believe in miracles. I trust in the ability of the Almighty God to suspend the natural course of life to bring about the supernatural. I am convinced that the red sea and river Jordan did path for the Israelites to pass through. I have assurance that God did turn around the economy of Syria is less than twenty-four hours with abundance immediately replacing dire famine. I believe the accounts of the blind seeing, the deaf hearing, the insane becoming reasonable and the dead returning to life, in the Bible did happen.
Yet, I know that miracles are far from the norm. The scriptures clearly show that although God is a miracle worker, He expects that the human beings He created work to build the society they want. From the beginning, He created the earth in form of a garden and gave Adam the task to tend it. As a matter of fact, it was the duty of the first man to perform the assignment of naming the creatures and the Bible records that whatever he chose to call them was acceptable to God.
This is why it bothers me that Nigeria, my country, seems to be depending on miracles for the change it needs. We are a religious people who have refused to understand that miracles are exceptions. We have over the last 57 years hoped to get by some miracle what other nations obtained by a clear commitment to values, hard work and huge sacrifices. We are a people who pray about everything but work towards little.
Nigeria can be likened to the man who SAT, along with other sick persons, by the pool of Bethesda WAITING for an annual moving of the waters to get his healing. According to the account of the story in John 5:1-15, various kinds of sick people sat under the five porches of Solomon by the pool of Bethesda waiting for the angel who came at an unannounced time to stir the waters. The trick to receiving healing was to be the first to get into the water after the visit of the angel.
Those who got ‘lucky’ must have taken some desperate measures. Some may have had to leave the comfort of the porches, which must have been quite ‘relaxing’ being that they were shades by a pool. A few may have even decided to damn the consequences and stay by or in the water until the stirring. Quite a number must have dedicated to studying the trends of the angel’s visit. Definitely, those who got in over the years were strategic, refusing to be comfortable with sitting and waiting.
Like Nigeria, our dear man, however, loved the shades, despite the fact that it must have been quite a terrible place with all the stenches from the infirmed. While others worked hard, he daydreamed about the day all things will be well. There have been various development plans including the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), seven-point agenda, National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS), Visions 2020 and 2030 in Nigeria. So much has been wasted in planning with little intention to implement. We somehow trust that a combination of unthinking thieving leaders and a reckless people will by some stroke of luck produce a great society.
I have heard and made statements like, “…in developed countries things are done like this or that”, “In other climes, the systems work…” over the years. I ask the same questions every time. Are we ready to pay the price that the countries we admire have paid for their society to be the way it is? Are we ready to put discipline, principles and values above personal interest, tribe and religion? Are we ready to work at least at much as we pray? Are we ready to speak the truth no matter whose horse is gored?
As Nigeria, our dear land turns a year older again, I challenge us to get off our lazy backs as a people, stop being comfortable in the company of the paralysed and take the future of our country in our hands. Unless and until we take required strategic steps as a people, we will be in this mess and definitely worse for many years. ‘Smaller’ countries will overtake us, while we delude ourselves as being the giant of Africa, if we fail to heed the voices of caution.
It should be instructive for us that the man by the pool of Bethesda was unsure of what he actually wanted when His miracle finally came. “Do you want to be healed?” the Master asked, “I have no one to take me in…” said the man. He was so dependent on one plan of action (call it oil) that he failed to see other opportunities.
Yes, Nigeria may eventually stumble upon a miracle that will bring about needed change. But, would it have been worth all our needless waste of precious lives and properties to wait for another 38 years for a change we can start having right away?
Happy Independence Day!
NOTE: The opinion expressed in the article is of the writer not necessarily of the publisher!