Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. Psalm 27:14
No crying over spilt milk. This thought evokes the Christian character of inner strength and of hope. This means being positive, enduring, and at the same time practical. Spilt milk can represent experiences in life that can be labelled as failures, mishaps, untoward incidents that have marred the colour of the day. They have somehow ruined hopes. They are anticlimaxes. They can be accidents, even deaths. They always proffer invitations to desperation and depression. They can lead to serious moping or racking one's brains over maybe how many million things could have been done instead to avoid what happened from ever transpiring. They can lead to a blaming game, blaming everybody else and blaming your world and circumstances and even blaming oneself. It can mean dwelling too much on the past and its negative aspects.
While the past is important, it is so only for the good memories to keep us going and to encourage us. From the bad memories, we only need the lessons learnt, so we do better the next time. Past failures are guideposts for future success. Christian attitude will always be looking forward. “Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead,” Phil 3:13. Dwelling on negatives things will burden us so much with a heavy load that we’d be tottering on the way and even break our backs. NO! We take on hope instead. Hope is a kind of waiting but in a biblical sense. "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint" (Isa. 40:31). Patience carries a lot of wait. The biblical sense of waiting is not just one of waiting in the ordinary sense like waiting for a person or waiting for time to pass. It means looking, meditating and reflecting. Not on the negative things that have happened, not on our fears and failures, but looking, meditating and reflecting on the power of God who able to lift us out of the ashes like a phoenix.
You cannot put spilt milk back in the bottle. In fact, the spilt milk story originates from a fable by Jean de la Fontaine, La laitière et le Pot au Lait (The Milkmaid and the Milkpot), borrowing themes from Aesop. It wasn’t about a bottle of milk spilling on some hard surface as we might imagine the picture of spilt milk to be. The story was about a milkmaid who was musing about many different things she would do with the money from the milk. The milkpot ended up slipping from her hand, the milk spilling on the ground. Now not even a cat can take advantage of the mishap. It’s done and gone and wasted. It cannot be changed. Time to move forward.
Do you know the Serenity Prayer? You have probably seen it a thousand times. It goes like this:
God grant me the SERENITY
to accept the things I cannot change;
COURAGE to change the things I can; andWISDOM to know the difference.
There are things beyond our control and all we can do is turn it over to the God who is always in control. "From the very beginning, God has been in control of all the world." Job 34:13 . There are indeed things beyond our control that instead of crying or screaming curses, we can instead shout praises to the God who is in control . “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4). The letter of St Paul to the Philippians is considered as one of the prison letters, like Ephesians, Colossians and Philemon. It was not written in a place of comfort conducive to reflection and meditation. It was written in a place with four dirty walls, a good measure of darkness, and a diet lacking necessary nutrition or taste.
Job knew when it was beyond his control. When painful sores broke out on Job’s body, his wife became angry and desperate that she blurted out, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!" Job 2:9. But Job, who was patience personified, was scraping his sores with broken pottery. He looked at her and called her a fool, saying, “If we accept blessings from God, we must accept trouble as well." Job 2:10. And we know that the story ends in a happy ending, his lost fortune being restored twice over, having seven sons and three lovely daughters, and receiving long life even.
During the last Manila Foundation celebration at North Ryde on August 22, my Magna broke down ten minutes to destination. I had to leave the car at West Ryde with the mechanics as the engine was pretty messed up. We were fetched half an hour later so we still made it to the celebration. No word of complaint came out of my mouth, neither did a faint curse slip from my lips. Better to light a candle than curse the darkness. So I lit a candle of prayer. What was important was to move on. There was nothing else I could do. This was my spilt milk moment, trivial though it might be. We left West Ryde not thinking about the incident, there were grander things to attend to, there was a celebration to be part of, there was God to be praised, there was reason to rejoice.
Lord, help us to truly wise and rely on your strength and power always. Help to praise you in good times and in bad, in victories and defeats, in all kinds of circumstances, for you are our encouragement, our salvation, and our victory. Amen.
Copyright 2009 BRoME
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