So those of you reading this from the Lower Mainland know the situation with the air quality outside. Vancouver has been rated among the worst (if not the worst) in the world in terms of air quality these past couple of days. It has gotten so bad that we slept with all our windows closed last night, which is something we haven’t done since perhaps before this pandemic.
Our kids were complaining about how they can’t see the sun that they’ve become so used to over the past few months (minus a week or two because of rain), and I probably made it worse when I said that it is actually really sunny outside but we can’t tell because of all the smoke and haze. To be honest, I don’t know what they are so sad about as they’d prefer sitting inside playing video games anyway, regardless of what the weather was like outside.
Either case, I made a point to tell them that we have this inconvenience of not seeing the sun, sleeping with the windows closed, and maybe not liking how our lungs feel after a couple deep breaths outside, but there are people who are giving their all to fight these fires, there are people whose homes have been or are threatened with being burned to the ground, and some have even already lost their lives to it. So instead of focusing on how bad we have it here, recognise that we are lucky that it isn’t worse for us. I’m sure many people in the states are praying that all they have to worry about is not being able to the see the sun.
This kind of backfired though, as I think they’re really scared of fire now and to make themselves feel better they started making some of the goofiest jokes that literally made no sense.
The stories that we get in these texts are somewhat related to that story about my kids complaining about the haze, in that sometimes we forget about the plight that others face and fail to appreciate how good we have it. Instead, we focus on our small issues, our minor inconveniences, our “first world problems” and complain about them bitterly.
In the first reading, Jonah sounds downright selfish and spoiled with his complaining about God’s grace and then the heat beating on this head. And in Jesus’ parable we have the young and strong complaining about not getting compensated more than their weaker counterparts. In both stories we see the privileged not recognising their privilege, but rather complaining how their privilege hasn’t elevated them to a place that they perceive they deserve.
Well, that isn’t how it works with God’s grace, or it would cease to be called grace. God generously gives to all, the underprivileged, the outcast, the unwanted… and us. Just as those who aren’t as privileged receive God’s abundant blessing, so do we who are privileged receive God’s abundant blessing. Not because we deserve it or don’t deserve it, but because God is, as Jonah (and many other places in the bible) says, “gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing.”
This isn’t something to complain about, rather it is something to be celebrated. When we see how God’s grace isn’t bound by who deserves it or not, who has earned it or not, or who is privileged or not, we can see how it truly is grace and freely given to all people, which (praise God) also includes us.
So we can appreciate how God has blessed us. We can be thankful for how God has provided for us. We can let go of any jealousy or anger or maliciousness toward those who appear to have it better than us, as I’m sure that we have it better in our own unique ways (although it’s not a competition).
Let us continually give thanks for all that God has done and continues to do, for it will change our lives (or at least how we see life). Thanks be to God!
Have a great week, everyone!