Nothing Wasted…

2 Aug

Romans 8:28 states, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God…” At heart I believe this, yet I also know these words can sound trite and Pollyanna like when experiencing great suffering. When it comes to the Holocaust, a mass shooting, rape or poverty, 1) where is God? and 2) how can he be doing anything good?

I’m not even going to attempt to answer such existential/theological questions in a blog post, although my forthcoming book addresses some of these concerns. I will say though that I had an experience this morning that reminded me that in God’s economy, nothing is wasted. Sometimes the things we initially view as either irrelevant or *&^$, do serve a higher purpose.

Case in point: This morning while surfing, I had a little run in with a jelly fish. I suddenly realized that the particularly pretty kelp I brushed up against was actually a creature when three seconds later my foot started to sting. Hmmmm. It didn’t hurt too bad yet I was unsure of what would transpire next. Would my foot start to swell? Was I supposed to get out and do something like you do when a sting ray gets you?

I decided to get out and go home just in case this little sting turned into something major. As I walked to my car, I ran into a friend in the parking lot so I told him what happened. Sure enough, on the top of my foot a little rash was forming. My friend is not one to mince words. “You know what you do for a jelly fish sting?” he asked me. I shook my head no. “You put urine on it. Now for us guys, we can just point and aim. In your case, I’ll leave that for you to figure out, given your anatomy.” I sensed he wasn’t joking and my foot was starting to hurt.

As I’m not above this kind of thing, when I got home I ministered the home remedy prescribed by my friend. And within a half hour after this application, the rash disappeared, as did the pain. I found this quite remarkable. If our bodies didn’t eliminate waste we would die. Thus, this biological function serves a remarkably important purpose, but other than that, urine and excrement are just gross. But here was my own waste healing my body. What a paradox.

Related, in his lovely little book, “Touching Peace,” Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh writes a great piece entitled “Transforming Our Compost.” In it, he talks about how all the negatives in our lives – (i.e. the things we typically deem as “shit”), if broken down properly, have the potential to transform into beautifully fertile soil. From shit can grow magnificent flowers…

While it can sometimes feel as if our lives are comprised of waste, I try to remember that good can come from the yuck. And that is Good News.

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