Tag Archives: Proverbs 25

Up For The Fight!

Like cold water to a weary soul
    is good news from a distant land.

Proverbs 25:25 (NIV)

As I write this I am sweating profusely. With all the crazy of the global Coronavirus initiatives, my local CrossFit box had to close for a couple of weeks as mandated by the State of Iowa. So, my schedule is a bit off from normal and I worked out this morning at home. Now, I can’t get cooled down as I mop my brow with a rag and guzzle cold water.

What an apt metaphor for our current realities. As we struggle to figure out how to keep our daily routines and rhythms amidst working from home, mandatory lock-downs, and social distancing I can feel the corporate sweat we all feel with the unknown. I feel it in conversations with clients. I feel it in text conversations with our children. I feel it myself as I wonder how all of this will play out. The sweat of fear, anxiety, change, and confusion is something we’re all feeling one way or another.

I was reading my favorite Catholic mystic this morning and I loved what he had to say:

We are in the midst of a highly teachable moment. There’s no doubt that this period will be referred to for the rest of our lifetimes. We have a chance to go deep, and to go broad. Globally, we’re in this together. Depth is being forced on us by great suffering, which as I like to say, always leads to great love. 

But for God to reach us, we have to allow suffering to wound us. Now is no time for an academic solidarity with the world. Real solidarity needs to be felt and suffered. That’s the real meaning of the word “suffer” – to allow someone else’s pain to influence us in a real way. We need to move beyond our own personal feelings and take in the whole.

Richard Rohr

The (sweat-marked) t-shirt I’m wearing right now says, “Fight Pessimism” and I consciously chose it after my workout and shower. I have a feeling that we are just at the front-end of the “weary” we will experience in the days, weeks, and months ahead. Nevertheless, in the depth of every dark valley is the opportunity to ascend a new mountain.

The ancient sage Solomon tells me in this morning’s chapter that good news from a distant land is like the cool water I am absolutely loving right now as it refreshes my tired body. In the same way, I have an opportunity right now to be “good news” and refreshment to others in this moment of global insanity. I can offer to help others. I can share words of love, kindness, and encouragement. I can grocery shop for shut-ins. I can share toilet paper with those who can’t find any. I can reach out to old friends through social media to reconnect, share memories, and share a drink over FaceTime. I can get my mind off the sweat of my own fears and turn it into being cool water to another weary soul.

Fight pessimism. I’m up for the fight. You?

Let me know if you need a roll of toilet paper.

<— Click on Solomon for an indexed list of previous chapter-a-day posts from this series from Proverbs!

About This Post

These chapter-a-day posts began in 2006. It’s a very simple concept. I endeavor each weekday to read one chapter from the Bible. I then blog about my thoughts, insights, and feelings about the content of that chapter. Everyone is welcome to share this post, like this post, or add your own thoughts in a comment. Thank you to those who have become faithful, regular or occasional readers along the journey along with your encouragement.

In 2019 I began creating posts for each book, with an indexed list of all the chapters for that book. You can find the indexed list by clicking on this link.

Prior to that, I kept a cataloged index of all posts on one page. You can access that page by clicking on this link.

tomvanderwell@gmail.com @tomvanderwell

Everyone’s a Critic (and, Appropriately, Should Be)

2013 05 04 Dominies WifeTo one who listens, valid criticism
    is like a gold earring or other gold jewelry.
Proverbs 25:12 (NLT)

A little over a year ago I wrote a blog post entitled 10 Ways Being a Theatre Major Prepared Me for Success. The post went viral and has found its way into some very interesting places, for which I’m both surprised and grateful. That post sprang to mind this morning as I read the proverb above.

One of the most important lessons I learned being a theatre major (one, that for some reason, didn’t make my list) was the ability to accept and provide appropriate criticism. My theatre prof taught us to solicit criticism as actors. He once told us, “never blindly accept when a person tells you ‘you did a good job.’ Always ask ‘what exactly did you find good about it?'” If you did something well you need to understand what it was so that you can repeat it. If you missed the mark in some way, you need to know that too. How can we improve unless some one can observe and provide us with appropriate feedback?

Last weekend Wendy and I performed in a one-act play at the Pella Opera House for the local Tulip Time festival. With each show our director provided me with valid and crucial piece of criticism. Before opening night she told me that with one long line in which I explode in anger I had exploded too soon in the previous dress rehearsal and peaked out early in the line rather than building to the explosion. She was right. Before another performance she told me that I’d allowed too much dead air before another actor’s entrance and needed to fill it with a line. She was right. Rather than getting defensive and feeling like her criticism was inherently negative and destructive, I embraced what she was telling me. Her criticism, even in the late stages of production, allowed me to improve my individual performance and the overall quality of the show.

Looking back over the years I realize that seeing and thinking critically has been a crucial part of the successes I’ve experienced along life’s road. Having the character to weigh and accept criticism of others, and learning to provide valid, useful criticism to others is a tremendously important component of growth, maturity and wholeness.

[An index of all Tom’s chapter-a-day posts covering every book and chapter]

Chapter-a-Day Proverbs 25

Better Off Dead
Better Off Dead (Image via RottenTomatoes.com)

Singing cheerful songs to a person with a heavy heart 
      is like taking someone’s coat in cold weather 
      or pouring vinegar in a wound.
Proverbs 25:20 (NLT) 

I grew up with John Cusack‘s teen angst comedy Better Off Dead. It was a cult classic back in the day. The film is about the travails of Cusack’s character, Lane, whose girlfriend dumps him for the captain of the Ski team. Lane goes into a deep depression and the results are extremely comical.

There’s one great scene that flashed in my head this morning when I read the proverb above from today’s chapter. The day after getting dumped, Lane gets in his parent’s station wagon to drive to school. Of course, on the radio he immediately hears Neil Sedaka singing the chipper tune Breaking Up is Hard to Do. He switches the station again and again, but every song is a frustratingly inappropriate reminder of getting dumped. The scene cuts to an exterior shot of the car as Lane chucks the car’s radio, which has clearly been ripped from the dashboard, out the window.

Comedies tickle our funny bone by creating situations to which we can all relate. No one wants to hear Neal Sedaka’s eternally cheery voice, with doo-wop girls behind him, reminding you that you just got dumped. You want to hear a Lead Belly or B.B. King wailing out the blues. You want to hear a good angry thrashing song to scream out your pain and frustration.

To King Solomon’s point, a friend is someone who is going to empathize with you in your time of need. When you’re walking through a deep, dark valley in life, a friend will recognize where you are and will join you there so they can be your companion as you make your way out of it.

Today, I’m thankful for great friends who knew not to play cheerful songs when my heart was heavy. I hope I have, and will be, an empathetic friend to my companions in their own times of need.