Friday, June 29, 2012

Having Enough or Having it All

On Sean's facebook page, he links to this post on the Foreign Policy webpage, entitled "Why America Can't Have it All." I commend it, not only about what it says about "America" but also what it says about the idea that we, as individuals, should have "it all."

I have been considering lately the story of the Children of Israel in the Wilderness, and specifically the matter of God feeding them there.  I was led there by our study of John, Chapter 6, in our Sunday School Class, where Jesus declares that he is the Bread of Life, referring to "[o]ur forefathers [who] ate the manna in the desert . . . " 

Whatever manna the people gathered, it was enough:
Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. 16 This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Each one is to gather as much as he needs. Take an omerbfor each person you have in your tent.’”
17 The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. 18 And when they measured it by the omer, he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little. Each one gathered as much as he needed.
19 Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.”
20 However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.

 -Numbers 16: 15b - 20

Having it all is very often having too much.  So we keep "part of it until morning" and our lives begin to smell bad.  There is rot in it.  Maggots.  Broken families.  Broken lives.

The Jews have a song they sing at Passover.  The song is like a prayer, even a single word lifted up in thankful praise to God:  Dayenu (דַּיֵּנוּ.)  "Dayenu" means "Enough!"

I also think this expression of praise and gratitude has more to it than those obvious elements of worship: it is an acknowledgement that more than enough is not a blessing.  I would suggest that underneath that song, there is something like,  "Enough blessing, oh Lord!  Thank you, oh Lord, but enough blessing!"


Sean Meade said...

somewhere in Proverbs the idea is conveyed: don't give us too much, lest we forget You. one of my NT prof.s said he thinks this idea is present in the Lord's Prayer: give us the thing's we need today. and manna for today, but not tomorrow (unless it's the sabbath). they all go together...

Paul Stokes said...

That would be Proverbs 30:8b - 9, Meade:

8b [G]ive me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the Lord?'
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.