Jonah’s grumpy attitude is resonating with me today. I am not as far gone as he was, sitting outside the city of Nineveh , angry, displeased and ready to die. I am starting to feel some side effects from these medications that I am on and have been aware of it for a week or so now. Last night I wanted to crawl out of my body and leave it at the curb for awhile. Whatever is going on, my joy is being sucked dry at the moment and I am irritable. I agree with Jonah that God is gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. I am sure there is a plan in all of this and I will be ok but right now the present moment sucks a bit. Do not panic. I will find my centre again and move beyond this but I am searching for the lesson that is being held out too. Most of us do not want to stay in the hard places to figure the challenge out but I think there is great value in doing so.
God allowed a bush to grow up over Jonah to give shade to and to comfort him. Jonah was happy about this until the next day when a worm destroyed the bush. A wind arose and the sun beat down on him until he almost fainted. Now Jonah was angry again, angry enough to die, he says. God is long-suffering with us. We have all these expectations of the entitlements of being a child of the Divine. I have been remarkably well in so many ways with my disease but the medications have caused some complications. Like the bush, initially, they were helpful. My energy has been good and my thoughts were clearer. However, they have actually also increased my discomfort on many levels, waking me up on occasion in the middle of the night in significant pain, destroyed my taste buds, bloated me to the point that I think at any moment an alien is going to come flying out of my stomach, and now have me feeling off emotionally. I love the renewed energy but I hate feeling this discombobulated. Go ahead, God, kill the tree. Show me my heart and inner stirrings of soul. Jonah and I are not so different.
When life is good, giving praise is easy. The harder moments are the true testimony to our relationship with the Trinity. If, as the Principle and Foundation states, we are created to praise, honour and serve God, why do I need to be well and happy to do that? One of the golden conversations that I had on vacation was walking along one of my favourite beaches with a soul sister, trying to extract this very concept of praise even when life’s circumstances are far from praiseworthy. What does it mean to praise God in all things? On the second night of waking up in severe pain, I thought I would test out the possibilities. After a few breathes, I uttered simple words of thanks and glory to the Holy. I fell fast asleep within minutes, unlike the night before. I am feeling miserably sorry for myself, but want to dig around to see if this praise puzzle is a strategy that will help in the long run. The hardest part of this adventure is coming, as much as we all want to deny it. I may choose to quit these drugs when I see the oncologist next week but at some point, I will be entering a phase where medications are not going to be an option. I have to humble myself and depend upon my Maker for all things. Each decision will be a new way to live out the Principle and Foundation. How will I love, honour, and serve in different ways? What does it mean to not fully know the plans that God has or understand that the ways of God are not easily comprehensible by mere humans?
This is an act of trust by the creatures. Jonah, grumbling, full of pity, frustrated with the Creator, and giving up on life is not who I desire to be. I want to be the person who knows that my situation is in good hands because they are God’s hands holding me gently, even if I do not fathom what is happening, even when I want to peel myself out of my skin for a bit, even when my joy seems to disappear momentarily, and especially when I do not know where else to go for comfort and assistance. The path ahead of me will have lots more moments of yucky unpleasantness. I will need to dig deep into the reserves of grace God is bestowing upon me and to learn to yoke myself firmly there. God is concerned about me as much as any individual in Nineveh. Of that, I am certain.
Where do you ground yourself when life is challenging?
Can you accept that even as a Christian we are not promised an easy go?
Creator, you are in control even if we cannot comprehend exactly what the plan is. Increase our trust in you. Help us to sing praises rather than sulk. Let us know that our joy is not tied to our circumstances but something far beyond what is visible and even known. May we submit to you so that we may lovingly serve you in all situations. Amen.