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When Calculations

Go Wrong

Truth be told – we all like to be in control; and we hate it when our calculations go wrong.

And I don’t mean the literal mathematical calculations we try and make at the local grocery. I mean the predictions we make about our future – like when a businessman makes calculations about his profits, a parent about his children, a student about his scores, a graduate about his chance of getting a job, a bachelor about his marriage, a young man about his EMI to pay off his new bike, a job holder about his promotion and a young couple about having children. These calculations we make are often based on our age, our health, our intelligence, our educational background, our experience, the economy, our bank balance, our family situation, the possibilities, the probabilities and of course our hope for a brighter tomorrow.

What happens when our calculations go wrong? What happens when an illness strikes, the crops fail, our scores are below average, our children choose a different path, that job is lost, the promotion doesn’t come, the marriage is broken, the economy collapses or Corona hits and destroys our calculations – taking along with it, jobs, aspirations, dreams and our hope? What happens when we lose control? Last year was such a year – our calculations went wrong, horribly wrong.

Wedding at Cana:

I was reading the Biblical narrative of the wedding at Cana the other day and guess what – calculations did go wrong even in the 1st century!

The wedding party was in full swing; the music must have been blaring (see old Jewish movies to see how much they enjoy their music) and the wine must have been flowing. And then the unthinkable happens – the wine runs out! (If you were a Jew, you can almost substitute the word ‘joy’ for ‘wine’ and read the same sentence as the ‘joy’ runs out!) Somehow the calculations had gone wrong – horribly wrong and things were at the verge of going out of control.

Put yourself in that situation – especially in the shoes of the groom’s family for a moment. A thousand questions may be going through your mind now. How did this happen? How could have the calculations gone wrong? Who is responsible? What will people think when they find out? Anger, confusion, PANIC!

I’m sure we can identify ourselves with this situation, in one way or another. I can for sure. Last year was bad, horribly bad. I don’t wish to talk about it. It hurts to even think about it. But yes, calculations went wrong, things went out of control, or at least that’s what it felt like.

Lesson learned: I am not in control of everything that happens around me!

Lesson applied: “Inshallah”

I came across this term many years ago while watching an interview with a (now former) Pakistani cricketer. All through the interview he kept on using the word ‘inshallah’ and then I noticed my college friends (from the Muslim faith) also used the term frequently. I soon learned that the word means simply ‘God willing.’ I must confess that while our Muslim friends use this phrase frequently, as a Christian I find myself using this term very infrequently! (Although St. James in his epistle reminds me to the contrary).

When I say – ‘God willing’ I will do this or go there or be there, it is not expressing doubt. Rather it is acknowledging God’s sovereignty and indirectly my lack of absolute control. In other words, I am saying – yes, I plan to do this; but I’m not the boss – God is! If He wills, this will happen.

The best is yet to come!

Back to the narrative. Look at what happened next. Jesus is let known the ‘secret’– that the wine has run out, by His Mother. He then goes on to do something quite extraordinary – turns simple plain water into wine!

For good wine to form it takes weeks, months and sometimes years (that’s where the adage – ‘the older the better’ comes from). But Jesus – God in human flesh, cuts short the time required to make fine wine. He bye passed the natural process and thus did the impossible (at least with man) So when the master of the ceremony tastes the ‘new’ wine, he is stunned – simply because this wine was better than the first one!

The servants who bought the master the ‘new’ wine might as well have winked and said – haven’t you heard the saying ‘the best is yet to come?!’

The expensive wine, from the finest vineyard, the one which must have taken ‘ages’ to mature is no match to the miracle – wine – the ‘spilt-second water turned wine’.

Lesson learned: Time is not above God; it is subject to Him because He created it!

Lesson applied: The best is yet to come!

Conclusion: Yes, our calculations can and do go wrong. But God’s calculations have not and will not (human interactions are governed by forces which can’t go wrong even by an infinitesimal amount – but that’s a lesson for another time).

Things might seem to have gone out of control of our hands. But it has not and will not go out of God’s control.

An opportunity and time might look as lost forever. But for God who created time, He can bypass time.

He will repair the breach, rebuild the broken and restore the joy. He will do a miracle. Time is in His hands.

The best is yet to come! I believe that. Do you?

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