The whole episode lasted for not more than five minutes and, ironically, took place a few minutes after my friend had said, “Don’t fight with anyone.” I had no intention of doing that of course but circumstances have the ability of bringing the best out of you (*sarcasm*).
I yelled at someone, not because that was on my wish list, but because I was genuinely offended. Overcome by emotions that were out of my control, I snapped and then walked away. The person’s actions were plain wrong and I didn’t want them to be repeated, hence, I used my anger to make him realise the same. There was no remorse though, and even though I felt my efforts were wasted I knew I did the right thing.
But… I was overcome with doubt just as the anger started to subside. Doubt is like this… like this thing that makes you question even the noblest of actions and even though mine didn’t really fall in that category, the thought that crossed my mind soon after was: “Did I do the right thing? Was anger really the answer?”
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”
Clearly when Jesus was overturning the tables, he wasn’t in his best of moods. He didn’t go like, “Aww! You cuties selling such such adorable things here. But you shouldn’t have. Umm, hang on a second, let me just mess around with these tables to prove my point. And while I do I am going to make sure I laugh my heart because the whole situation is just plain hilarious.”
Ha ha… Nope, he was angry, angry at the wrong taking place in a holy place. While I was trying to teach myself this truth, I couldn’t shake off the doubt that had already taken root.
Doubt… It’s like when I was having a plate full of mangoes that my mother decided to share some wisdom. “Don’t eat them whole like that, even though they are tiny. Sometimes they have insects or some worms inside. You would not want a taste of that, would you?” And to make matters worse she squirmed with every bite I took; which of course I did, after all I belong to a generation who does not listen to their parents. With doubt firmly planted, even though my mum had no idea, I secretly prayed that the mangoes had no insects or any squishy disgusting thing. On the other hand, thanks to the fear I couldn’t even relish what I was eating.
So doubt for me is like that mango episode; ruins even the sweetest of fruits. And it doesn’t stop there. Doubts have tried to ruin even the stablest of things in my life — my faith. There have been so many occasions when I have doubted what I believe. “Is it really true? Did it really happen? Am I, honestly, going to heaven?” Stupid mango-ruiner doubt, wish it was a person so I could punch it in the seed — since mangoes don’t have faces.
And when that happens, when I start to doubt the very foundation that I am built on, I remember…
1) How lonely and angry I was when I was in college. How I would reach almost an hour early, and then make my way to the prayer room because there really wasn’t anyone with whom I could hang out. I would try to remind myself of the peace I felt when I would read the pages of New Testament.
2) I remember how crooked my relationship was with my mother. How there was only hurt, anger and more anger. There were times when we wouldn’t even speak to each other for months over some petty issue. How the only emotion I felt towards her was hatred, plain and ugly hatred. I remember how things changed, gradually. How we reached to a point where she even broke down in front of me; she cried her heart out because I was able to say something that gave her comfort.
3) How I barely cared about keeping in touch with relatives who live out of town. But now I can hardly be away from them for more than six months. How I love them all to pieces.
You might say growing old knocked some sense in me; but the truth is that it was the words from the Bible that changed my heart that had forgotten to perform its basic yet the most important function — to love unconditionally.
Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence. O my God, my soul is in despair within me; Therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan And the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
What do you think will happen if that tiny little part of the brain that stores all our memories decided to go on a long vacation? I would go mad, because without my memories I am nobody. Though I am not sure about million things, my memories do point to one single consistent truth — Jesus and how my life changed because of him. I can choose to not believe it, but my memories can’t lie or change to support my askew perspective. They are the ammo I use and desperately need to defeat the doubt against whom I am always so helpless.
Even though anger is not the answer, I know I wasn’t wrong at least this time round. Because JC did the same when he was confronted with something that stood against everything that he believed in.
He overturned the tables and I don’t regret overturning them too.