I am not a history buff. But I’ve been thinking lately about 2 things which must have characterized most civilizations until our modern times (and which still often characterize our third world): regular fear for one’s life and regular concern for one’s daily needs. Relative peace in the western world, scientific and technological advances, and modern refrigeration have all but purged our modern society from these terrible fears.
Yet sometimes I wonder if those old-fashioned fears are really all that terrible in every way. To be reminded daily of the fragility of life is not to take it for granted. To be reminded daily of God’s faithful provisions is not to become arrogantly self-dependent. I get so stuffy sometimes. I think I’d be a better person if I had even just a small dose of those fears. Just think of how uniquely (and comfortably, I might add) we experience the [American] world today. A world in which we have the freedom, affluence, and time to drink our iced caramel macchiatos in our air-conditioned Starbuckses and talk authoritatively about poverty and social injustices!
I want to be the kind of person who is grateful for and mindful of the real fragility and dependency in which I live each day. I really believe that Jesus holds my molecules together (Colossians 1:17) and that each breath I breathe is borrowed air (Psalms 24:1).
I’d never heard someone pray before a meal like my friend Stacy. It changed me. Now, instead of a mostly thoughtless “God-bless-this-food-nourish-it-to-our-bodies,” I pray something more like this:
“Lord, thank You for this food. It reminds us of how good You are. I’ve never before had to worry about where my next meal was coming from. I’ve never before feared for my life because of war, famine, or terror. Give hope and help to our sisters and brothers who are right now fearing for those exact things. Amen.”
Good thoughts Jocelyn – I know it sounds morbid but it is almost as if we need funerals or death to remind us how grateful we should be for our life and what Jesus has planned for us to do here before we go to be with him.
I know exactly what you mean, Carla. God always works in special ways in my heart at funerals. It is so good for me to remember how fragile life is, even though sometimes the remembering comes through “bad” (or at least sad) circumstances. I don’t know how people who don’t know Jesus make it through all of the grief of life and the uncertainty of what comes after death.