The teachable moment.
Then, there is the teachable moment. Now, please fast-forward past the academic, dictionary garble about this kind of learning. Go simple with me. In a more pragmatic sense, the teachable moment is that rare, often instant flash when life lessons can be grasped most effectively. Usually unplanned, this curriculum registers deeply with us because it is a time of clarity, when the answer to a puzzling life mystery is discovered. The light-bulb in our brain pops on. Ah ha! Discovery time. Real learning.
It may not be the general rule, but my most teachable moments have been occasions when hardship, pain, or personal difficulty have softened me. Perhaps the power of overwhelming circumstances dissolves the prideful surfaces that shelter our learning synapses. But, as I learned from Pastor Ken Whitten's Twitter post in 2011, the question of harsh times isn't "how do I get out of this?'. No, it is "what do I get out of this?" It's that teachable moment thing when stubborn, self-centered me is most apt to listen. They scroll across the screen in my head, these important words---"Pay attention"!
Jeremiah's five poems eloquently described what happened to Judah and Jerusalem. His verbal imagery graphically depicted their destruction and fall. The glories of their nation, beloved city, Holy Temple, and chosen people were contrasted with their ugly defeat, its aftermath, and exile to Babylon. It was obviously a teachable moment for him as he struggled to understand what had happened to his beloved city and nation. His learning curve was honed to a point of personal responsibility and understanding. Notice his use of the word "sinned" in the texts of Lamentations---
Jerusalem sinned grievously; therefore she became filthy; all who honored her despise
her, for they have seen her nakedness; she herself groans and turns her face away.
Lamentations 1: 8, ESV
Our fathers sinned, and are no more; and we bear their iniquities.
Lamentations 5:7, ESV
The crown has fallen from our head; woe to us, for we have sinned!
Lamentations 5: 16, ESV
In the first instance he identified the nations woes with the sins of Jerusalem. You know, an impersonal and generic designation, perhaps referencing the ways of the entire city population. Then, in the second occasion, he confessed the sins of their fathers, meaning Israel's patriarchs and those who had lived before them. Their stubborn ways were a backdrop for their current deplorable situation. Finally, in what must have been a personal reckoning, he admitted "...for we have sinned". He joined himself to the current people of Judah in their obstinate and disobedient ways. His teachable moment was the discovery that he was one of the "we" in Judah and was responsible for their national condition like everyone else.
You know, we're all second guessing our nation's response to the coronavirus. Some are saying God is punishing us. Others point to our immigration and travel policies, and dysfunction in our medical response systems. In the main, we're taking aim at our politicians, elected officials, our vast bureaucratic network, and the misinformed media elite. Last night, after reading Jeremiah's fifth poem and noting the "we" of his lament, it occurred to me that all of the above are the results of elections and appointments that "we the people" should celebrate in our representative republic. Our system, for better or worse, is ultimately the result of what "we the people" have orchestrated in the voting booth and permitted through our silence and acceptance. The bottom line for me is that "we the people" can do something about this mess.
Mark Tuesday, November 3, 2020 on your calendar. Pray about how you will express your opinions in the voting booth that day. And, be one of "we the people" who can move our nation in the direction envisioned by our framers and The Constitution of the United States. Let's quit whining and get "we the people" to the polls.
Be safe and well.