Finally our long hot humid oppressive suffocating summer has ended, and fall has begun. Towards the end of summer I set an unpleasant, unofficial, new personal record. Running in Mountain Lakes early one morning, I sucked in yet another bug. Reminded me of when my wife and I went to a bluegrass concert in Overpeck Park in the Meadowlands back when we lived in Bergen County. One band had to stop their set early—-the poor woman who was their lead vocalist had breathed in one bug too many !
My bug-breathing led me to reflect more generally on when things seem to just happen to us. Where it is not our choice—and yet —stuff happens. Yes, my bug-sucking is a picture of what it means to be living in a fallen world. After all, when Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, they didn’t have to worry about breathing in bugs on their morning runs.
My bug-sucking is an example of what economists calls a negative externality. It’s when someone else’s activities harm you and cost you and you’re not compensated — like a nearby factory that creates stinky toxic smoke that you breathe in. Or someone doesn’t clear their yard of places where bugs breed.
When that happens, what are our choices ?
Sue the bums? Call the EPA?
Or just put up with it?
You mean we can’t always fight it? Yes, sometimes we need to put up with certain crappy things that are out of our control.
At first glance that sounds pretty depressing, doesn’t it ? And it would stay so if we didn’t believe that things will be finally set right. I’m not advocating inert passivity when we should act — but sometimes there really is no action we can take. (I mean, should I have run with a netting over my face?)
But we believe that Christ will set all things right, if not in this life then in the next. We have cause for optimism in spite of the slop. That’s what Christian hope is all about !