Aug 10, 2017
Bedouins are an exceptionally hardy, hospitable people. I learned this in the Holy Land from my friend, Tony, a Catholic archeologist who grew up in Jerusalem and is presently completing his dissertation on King David, examining his life in the rock and ruins. Tony tells me that he will sometimes employ Bedouins to work on his archeological digs especially during the blistering summer months. He hires them in particular for their work ethic, but also for their ability to withstand the crushing desert heat. He speaks of them with sincere admiration when he says, “I am a son of the desert, I know what 120 degree heat is, and even I can’t work past about ten a.m. some days. But the Bedouins,” he adds, nodding his head in approval and a touch of disbelief, “they can work all day.”
They have their methods. One day while working alongside them, Tony was about to collapse due to the rising temperature. About mid-day, he told the Bedouin workers to quit for the day. Instead, they made a roaring fire and sat around it, close, drinking very hot tea. Curious, Tony joined them. After about twenty minutes next to the blaze, he said, “I’m cooked! I can’t take any more!” and he got up to move away from the fire.
As he stepped away from the blaze, he stopped short – he suddenly felt completely cool. It was over 120 degrees, but sitting next to the fire, drinking the hot tea raised his body temperature such that he actually felt cool when he returned to the dig. And he was able to work vigorously the rest of the day alongside his Bedouin desert brothers.
God’s method of mercy is often just like this: a roaring fire in the desert heat. Sometimes, Jesus brings us a little bit closer to the blaze, asks us to drink just a little more of that hot cup of suffering, whatever it might be – persecution or poverty, loneliness or rejection, illness or isolation – but it is to prepare and strengthen us, that we might go back out into the heat of spiritual battle and continue to fight with fresh courage.
The question becomes, will I trust his method or will I run for shade? Am I just too attached to my own comfort that I refuse to drink that burning cup?