Lamentations 3:16–18, Zechariah 8:18–23, Nahum 1:15 (read online ⧉)
In the United States, peace is often perceived as having plenty. Peace, as many of the saints who walked before us learned, is not found in the plenty. It is found in the lacking. This does not mean that lacking, in and of itself, is a spiritual discipline. Not seeking more often is a spiritual discipline, however. In a country filled with plenty, there is far more than we seem to be able to acknowledge. Yes, there are those that have less than you…sometimes incredibly less than you. As many of us grew up hearing, “if you don’t eat this food, we’ll send it to…” This is an oversimplification, and (really) somewhat offensive. However, there are countries that will take the clothing that our charities (such as Goodwill and St. Vincent De Paul) won’t take because it is far better than what they have.
This perspective becomes important when we do lose nice things when we realize that the prosperity we had is gone. The writer of Lamentations ties in this loss with peace. The writer also ties in their future and hope to this loss. The peace they lost, however, had more to do with the loss of a relationship, rather than food, clothing, wealth, or freedom.
Often (again, as the saints that went before us learned), the first lacking that is the most useful is food. In Zechariah, we read that the fasts will become a time of joy, again. They had become an onerous task that served no value. Yet, here the place of fasting as a time of connection with God, and setting aside comfort for God’s will is restored. Imagine having people come to you because of the success of your fasting! It would not be because of your better figure (having lost weight), but it would be because of the peace you found when setting aside one of your most basic needs.
This like all things becomes what it was intended to be when living in the presence of God. At the feet of peace’s herald, at the feet of God, celebration and joy. The ultimate enemy of peace—sin—is destroyed.
1) Why do you think lacking helps us get closer to God?
2) During the Christmas season, there are plenty of parties and food. Think of that in light of our passages and reading. Where does that lead you?
3) We are often attracted to the success of others, and thus try to emulate their practices and disciplines. How can that be helpful? How can that be hurtful? How could it affect your relationship with God?