I switched on the light, but procrastinated my ignorance as long as possible, slowly opening my eyes and turning toward the clear bowl in the corner of my living room. I braced myself for the second time of the day. The first time was early in the morning, dreading the same scene I feared now: Methuselah, my betta fish, floating at the surface of his fish bowl. But, just like this morning, when my eyes finally opened…Methuselah still lived. Barely, but he wasn’t floating at the top.
I couldn’t believe it! The night before I had been sure he was a goner—slumped over the gravel on the bottom, barely twitching when I jostled his bowl. I couldn’t bear to flush him though, because if I tried to pour him while he was still at the bottom, all the gravel would fall in my toilet. It was more convenient to wait for him to float. But dead fish has always been one of my random fears, so I dreaded the day I was waiting for.
I had given up on Methuselah. Death is always sad, but it’s a betta. I’d already started picking out names for my next fish (probably a minor prophet), and was just down to waiting for the inevitable.
But the inevitable delayed longer than I thought. After jostling his bowl and watching him swim around for a few seconds before settling back down on the bottom of the bowl, I texted my friend Lori: “He’s still alive!” That started a conversation that changed my attitude from giving up on Methuselah to trying to save his life.
It also changed my evening plans. Instead of settling in on a cold winter night, I bundled up again to drive to the pet store while my friend attempted a diagnosis and recommended treatments over the phone. Amazingly, I found the recommended “BettaFix” along with some water conditioner, and spent the rest of the evening carefully and thoroughly cleaning his bowl, adding his specially treated water…and praying for the best.
Yes, I did pray for my betta. I know, it sounds lame in compared to desperate prayers for a world in crisis. But it was part of a larger prayer, on my way back from the pet store that night. One where I was confessing to God that I tend to give up on a lot of things before it’s time, and thanking Him that He doesn’t. And asking Him to help me to be more like Him in that way.
I was thinking about how easy it would have been, after we messed up, or even after Lucifer messed up, to just “flush” us down the toilet, and erase the memories of the rest of his creation. Theoretically, He could have done that. But not without compromising His character, because He would have known throughout eternity. He also apparently loved us too much to forget us. So, thankfully, He didn’t flush us.
Instead, He became one of us. He entered our sick, violent world to demonstrate that He has not forgotten us, and He loves us so deeply He would give His life to give us life.
There’s a lot that makes us feel like giving up in this world—or giving up on this world. From personal problems to overwhelming global injustice and pain—we feel helpless. But we don’t have to give up, because Jesus has not given up—on us or on our world. It might get ugly and challenging, but He is with us, and He will walk through it all with us until there truly is peace on earth. Until that day when we are fully healed.
Until then, remember that even now…“We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Rom. 8:37
Once or twice a month, we send out a short devotional to our volunteers. This was written by Andrea Keele, and was sent to our volunteers on Dec. 15, 2016.