As I learned from writing, “Later Never Came Until Now,” many of my educational lessons were learned early but manifested later in time. One of those was a homophone, which is a word that is pronounced the same, but spelled differently and has different meanings. I want us to explore whale, wail and well in an effort to end at a homograph, which is a word that is spelled the same, yet has different meanings and may be pronounced differently as well. Mrs. Johnson, my 8th grade English teacher would be so proud….
Sometimes, the pressures and lived experiences of life become overwhelming. Do you ever feel like they are as enormous as that of a whale? Blue Whales in particular are the largest known mammal that has ever lived; its size has been measured up to 110 feet long and 150 tons! While we can’t measure the size of our problem(s), we often feel that its huge. Interestingly enough, beneath the skin of whales lies a layer of fat called blubber. It serves as an energy reservoir. They also have blowholes located on the top of the head so that they may remain submerged. We mask a lot of what we are carrying beneath the external appearance, much like the whale; and we continue to move through space and time, refusing to give attention to that which is impairing our breathing, our existence. At some point, the actual circumstance is able to penetrate the mind, which is typically focused on those 60,000 or more thoughts and before you know it, it’s hit you! The inability for whatever is concerning you to exit the mind like the whale is able to breath through the top of its head will cause an eruption. This realization may show itself while you are driving, in line at the grocery store, at your child’s soccer game, in a boring work meeting, or during Sunday service. Before you know it, the whale size issue you are experiencing ushers in a wail, uncontrollable and unconsolable tears that stem from a place of hurt, disappointment, fear, anger, deep sorrow and perhaps even hopelessness.
I’ve been at this place. I won’t say that I lost hope in God, because I recognized his ability to move at any time, but I’ve lost faith in his desire to give attention (or attention as I determined) to my matter at hand in the moment that I expected him to show up. My tears have erected my own wall, albeit not in Jerusalem, but nonetheless serving as a monument of my outpouring to God. At some point, I get tired of my personal pity party and have to follow the example of David to encourage myself. I’m encouraged that our God is sovereign and knows all about our issues. Psalm 126:5 reads, “Those that sew in tears, shall reap in joy.” It may even get to a point whereby we take solace in Psalm 42:3 that reads, “My tears have been my meat day and night.” The greater the wail, the greater the need to stay close to the Creator of our tears. We cannot afford to isolate ourselves and become even greater prey to the enemy of our soul. In our wailing, we must worship. We must seek relationship to the author and finisher of our faith, even though it may feel like time and energy wasted. We must call upon our inner man, our blubber as our energy reservoir to provide endurance to continue.
Reading posts on Facebook, its easy to see a clear division. There are those who are consumed during this time of the year with family, material goods, friends and what appears as the perfect ending to a Hallmark movie, and others who are consumed with grief, loneliness, sadness and despair, reflecting upon loved ones who are gone, sickness, broken relationships and disappointment. I would suggest that we take comfort in the Comforter and allow ourselves to be engulfed in his warmth and concern for us, not just during the holidays, but through every single breath he allows us to take.
There is waiting on the horizon, the ability to get to well. Recall the Shunammite woman? Her son was sick unto death, and she expressed initially that, “It shall be well.” I imagine she held to this belief in her wailing. When we are going through we must hold fast to our hope in God! Hoping does not mean the problem will depart, but our hope mustn’t either. Eventually, the Shunammite woman moved to express, “It is well!” She provides a tangible example for us to model. Instead of pulling away, she drew closer to God’s representative, and subsequently, her belief in God’s healing power and that ultimately, her son would be well, and he was!
Regardless of our situation, our issue, our circumstance, and the degree to which we would rate it, we can remain grounded in our personal homograph, who is God. Recall that a homograph is a word that is spelled the same, but has a different meaning. In whatever season you find yourself in, God can be a homograph. When faced with a situation as large as that of a whale, he is God the homograph who can exchange my yolk for his, and we can find rest for our soul (Matthew 11:29). In this instance, he is God Adonai, master of all! When faced with a situation that causes one to wail, he is God the homograph who tells us to cast our cares upon him because he cares (1 Peter 5:7). In this instance, he is God Immanuel, God with us! When faced with a situation that is not positive, he is God the homograph who encourages us to not be weary in well doing, because we shall reap if we faint not (Galatians 6:9). In this instance, he is God Jehovah Shalom, providing peace! The answer for whale, wail and well is God, God, God! He is the same yesterday, today and forevermore and will be whatever you need him to be for whatever state you find yourself in. In my best Velma Gaines’ voice from A Different World, “Well!”