This is not about spaghetti

Published 8:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2023

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By R.A. Tea Mathews

I didn’t want any part of it—spaghetti.

Let me begin by telling you that Italian food is my favorite. But I’ve reached an age when my body sees me eyeing certain foods and sasses me. Foods like man-made carbs. Spaghetti.

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I’ve learned to just walk away. 

Not because I want to. No-no, but because my body fights me if I down those foods. It’s better to just turn around at the get-go.

That’s why I didn’t want to do it—eat spaghetti. 

“Not good for me, Abba,” I said.

But the need for this pasta kept coming to me. It wasn’t a craving; it was a guidance in response to prayer. 

“You can’t be serious,” I said to God, day after day. But the guidance would not leave me.

Finally, I just did it, loading up the sauce with red pepper flakes. I like it spicy. 

And that changed my world. 

What I haven’t told you is that around Christmas I started having shoulder pain. It became so severe that I would lie awake all night long, thinking of people who went to prison, hooked on pain killers. 

I prayed and prayed for God’s help. 

I’m a writer, and this was in my right shoulder radiating down my right arm. Pain. Intense pain. I couldn’t get dressed and I couldn’t write.

But after that meal, the pain eased and I could sleep. 

I had no idea why.

Google told me I had just eaten capsaicin, an ingredient in red pepper flakes, which alleviates certain kinds of pain. And those flakes, which cost a dollar, became my bestie—in my car, my purse, and my kitchen. 

My pain is gone. 

I’ve always believed that a cure exists in nature for everything and immediately thought of the sailors who died from scurvy. National Geographic says scurvy causes the body to disintegrate, and that more than three times as many sailors died from it than all the soldiers killed during the Civil War. 

Yet a simple cure was found in nature—citrus fruit.   

Immediately, I told a woman in my church about capsaicin, since she suffers with pain. Now, if you’re under a doctor’s care, you should consult him or her before adding foods with capsaicin to meals. It’s powerful and does other things like lower blood pressure. So, check in with your doctor.

But my church friend is a nurse. She’s told me she’ll try it. Has said that for months yet hasn’t.

“I don’t think she believes me,” I told a friend.

“She’s like Naaman,” he said. 

That’s a wonderful story. Do you remember who Naaman was?

  1. A well-respected general
  2. A king of Israel
  3. A disciple of Jesus
  4. An apostle who traveled with Paul

Select your answer. Here’s the passage:

Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man … because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram.” (2 Kings 5:1) 

The correct answer is No. 1, “A well-respected general.”

But Naaman had leprosy—a horrible disease. And when Naaman discovered that there was a man in Israel who could help him, the general traveled to Israel and ultimately ended up on the doorstep of the prophet Elisha. Despite the general’s prominence, Elisha wouldn’t go to the door. Instead, the prophet sent his servant with a message for the general. 

What did the servant say?

  1. “Elisha only cares for the lost sheep of Israel.”
  2. “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times.”
  3. “Eat the fat of the lamb and you will be healed.”
  4. “No one can heal leprosy but Jesus.”

Select your answer. Here’s the passage:

“So Naaman came with his horses and his chariots and stood at the doorway of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent a servant to him, saying, ‘Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.’” (2 Kings 5:10)

The correct answer is No. 2.

But this angered the general who had thought the prophet would come out to him and pray for God’s healing. Furious, Naaman said that there were better rivers in Damascus, and he left in a rage.” (2 Kings 5:11-12)  

But the general’s servants convinced him to wash in the Jordan.

“So (Naaman) went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times … and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.” (2 Kings 5:14)

What I tell you here is not about spaghetti or dipping in water. Instead, know this: The Lord is always trying to help you. 

Pray and listen and act on His guidance.

he Rev. Mathews, BA, MDiv, JD, is a newspaper faith columnist and the author of “Reaching to God.” Contact her at to join her 1-Minute Bible Study.

Copyright © 2023 R.A. Mathews. All rights reserved.