Thursday, December 4, 2008

Taking the bitter with the sweet -- zestful living

My relish for hot sauce amuses my children. It makes almost everything taste better, except, perhaps, ice cream. The Turks have a word that applies to these products of the chili pepper, acı -- bitter; sharp; hot; pungent. That's the adjective.

Or, when used as a noun, acı -- pain, ache, sorrow.

Or, you can combine it with the verb çekmek (to go out) to convey the sense of to feel pain, to suffer. I'm reminded of the only Malay word that made it into general use in English. It has two correct spellings (amok, amuck), and is always combined with the verb to run.

A benefit of reading a familiar text in a new language is, you notice frequently repeated phrases a bit more vividly. Acı çekmek shows up in various forms at least a dozen times in Birinci Petrus'un mektubu. (1:6, 11. 2:18, 20, 23. 3:13, 17. 4:1, 19. 5:1, 9, 10) Suffering, setbacks, disappointments are, Peter tells his readers, and us, a normal part of life. Something we all face. Something that can enoble us, and make us better. Something that can, unless we are careful, debase us, and make us bitter. I don't want to be trite, here. Job's "comforters" were too fast to offer easy answers, and God was not pleased with their "ministry." What do you tell a family watching a 13-year-old son losing a long battle with cancer?

Peter's answer is -- view all that comes to us as from the hand of a personal, and caring, God. When addressing communities of believers scattered throughout present-day Turkey, Peter wrote:
5:6 Uygun zamanda | sizi yüceltmesi için, | kendinizi | Tanrı'nın kudretli eli | altında alçaltın.
5:7 Bütün kaygılarınızı | O'na yükleyin. | Çünkü O sizi kayırır.
At the end of the season/period (of testing) | in order that you might be lifted up, | yourselves | God's mighty hand | humble under.
All of your anxieties | upon Him throwing. | Because He for you cares.

Or, as the King James Version of the Bible puts it,
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you.

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