The Trouble with Harmony

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An infestation of fleas in our house. A large, newly identified plantar wart on my foot. A persistent and painful overgrowth of yeast afflicting my seven-week old daughter's mouth and my breast. Welcome to my life last week: invasion of the parasites.

My budding pest situation reminded a friend of the Egyptians' 10 plagues in Exodus when Pharaoh wouldn't give the Israelites their freedom. I heartily agreed. (Meanwhile that same week, my friend's toddler son stuck a coin in her computer DVD drive and killed her computer, her car engine died, and her house was broken into. Oh, and she's eight months pregnant and has raging sciatic pain.)

Why is life so difficult sometimes? We feel needled to death by a thousand aggravations and annoyances sucking the air out of us like leaky balloons. Worse, a patch of frustrating circumstances often generates a doomsday mindset in which we constantly wonder what will go wrong next.

Lamenting my irksome misfortunes - really just common, low-grade nuisances - and pondering my response, I started thinking about what I want in life when I'm honest with myself. What I really want is simply for THINGS TO GO WELL. More than being famous or rich, I just want a smooth, satisfying life. Don't we all? You know the types of things I mean: health for myself and my loved ones, a lack of catastrophes large and small, good weather on my vacation.

In a nutshell, I want harmony. If I could just get harmony in my days, then I wouldn't need to trouble God for anything else.

The desire for harmony is Eden-old, seen throughout the Bible. The psalmists' prayers for harmony are not unlike my own: "Remember me O Lord when you show favor to your people? let me share in the prosperity of your chosen ones; (Ps 106:4-5) and "May the Lord our God show us his approval and make our efforts successful." (Ps. 90:17). In my case, "successful efforts" to get rid of my fleas, wart, and yeast infection are exactly I'm looking for from God!

The problem is that my quest for harmony often becomes worship of harmony: Harmony, the idol. I am looking for annoyances to dissolve, for an easy life, for things to go my way. I am NOT looking for God ? at least not very much.

Know who did not have a smooth-sailing, harmonious life? Jesus. Also Peter, John, Mary, and virtually everyone else in Jesus' circle. The very lack of harmony that these individuals encountered caused them to cling ever tighter to their strength-giving God. They could never have fulfilled their callings or maintained their joy if they had not.

October 23, 2007 at 1:32 PM

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