“Pero que hacemos? Hay que aguantar.” But what do we do? We must endure.
The phrase caught me off-guard. I am used to hearing North Africans talk like that, especially if they throw in a “praiseGod” or dozen and shake their heads with wry smiles that say what their words don’t. And then their words do, but they are followed so closely with more resigned “praiseGod”s that it all feels more like a question mark rather than a confirmation of faith. But I am not used to hearing Spaniards talk with the same resignation. What happened?
Meanwhile, in America we clamor for platforms that offer unfiltered voice on topics we may or may not understand when, in fact, the world would be better off if most of us suffered from stage fright.
Are these our only options? Resignation or dogmatism?
Almost every time I walk across town, some wanna-be graffiti slapped to the side of a décor shop catches my eye. “Queremos sentirnos vivas” We want to feel alive. It sounds like a cry, not to oppressors, not even to God, but just hurled into space from a spirit that wants more than resignation or dogmatism. It reminds me of another of another cry:
During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.(Ex. 2:23-25)
Even though the cry was not to God, God heard and God knew. And He liberated His people. After this liberation, the following years in the desert were so hard that the ex-slaves began to daydream of life back in Egypt (Num. 11:5). God had promised a land flowing with milk and honey, but not yet.
Today as headlines continue to make history in ways we never would have chosen, we too are in that “not yet” pocket, basking in salvation (already) and looking forward to God’s promise of heaven (not yet).
What will choose in the meantime? Resignation or dogmatism?
Or life. Abundant life (Jn. 10:10). After all, we have a guarantee of our inheritance as heirs with Christ:
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.(Eph. 1:13)
We don’t just have to endure and parrot “praiseGod.” We don’t all have to share our opinions about every topic all the time (and resent those who disagree). We don’t even have to assign divine meaning to suffering.
Yes, hay que aguantar, but that is not all. Whatever “not yet” desert we are stumbling through today is not the end of our stories. And right here in the middle of the dry, we can sentirnos vivos because the gift of abundant life transcends our desert.