From the Daily Office Lectionary for Wednesday in the week of Proper 23, Year 1 (Pentecost 20, 2015)
Jeremiah 37:10 ~ Even if you defeated the whole army of Chaldeans who are fighting against you, and there remained of them only wounded men in their tents, they would rise up and burn this city with fire.
As I read the Scriptures and pray the Daily Office this morning, I am in the fourth day of an ear infection which awakened me with sharp stabbing pain in the middle of Sunday night. Monday morning my physician prescribed an antibiotic and some decongestant nasal spray.
“How long?” I asked. “As long as it takes,” he answered. The antibiotic prescription is for a two-week course, and he gave me three refills on the nasal spray, so that might be a hint.
In today’s Old Testament lesson, Jeremiah is prophesying the inevitability of Jerusalem’s destruction. This is a no-matter-what-you-do sort of message. Many things are like that: no matter what you do they will happen. I remember an old saw about the common cold: left untreated a cold will last seven days; with aggressive treatment it will be over in a week. Nothing you do will change that.
At this point in my ear infection, the pain has been reduced to discomfort. Instead of feeling like a hot poker shoved into my ear, it has more the feeling of a hot, wet lump of oatmeal sitting there. I feel as if I could sniff in the right way and dislodge it, or blow my nose just so and get rid of it, or swallow in the proper manner and move it out. But, of course, none of that will happen.
There’s an inevitability that cannot be changed; it will take as long as it takes. No matter what you do, Jerusalem will be burnt. No matter what you do, a cold takes so long to run its course. No matter what you do, an ear infection will take as long as it takes. Sometimes one just needs to accept that.
Still . . . if I could just position my head in the proper way, maybe . . .