Lack can be a dreadful thing. There is a feeling of constant uncertainty, a feeling of standing on shifting sands. There is the fear of emergencies, the distrust of anything that threatens to take you outside your planned survival method for the period. Moreover, there is hunger; lots of hunger.
As a student, I have known God’s miraculous provision. There were times when there was no money, yet guys were still eating three times a day, and going to classes and back without much stress.
However, this time, this period of ‘moneylessness’ was unique. There was no miraculous provision leading to excess this time, no sudden altruistic tendencies that God generated in people that ususally ensured there was food every day. There were no roommates who had become brothers. The other brothers were also hungry. As it is said here, ‘it was a wahwoo’.
Looking back now, I can trace the hand of God through the entire period, sustaining and keeping me. However, while I was in the ogbono soup, it was not always clear.
The very first thing I learnt from lack is how much excess I had in my life. When there was no money to just stroll out and chill, it became painfully obvious just how much time and resources were going into useless non-activities. When there was no subscription, it became painfully obvious how important my phone had become. When there was no money to replace headphones, it became painfully obvious how much of my supposed ‘good time’ during devotion was just proximity to good music. The list goes on.
Lack helped me stop and see. Lack forced me to slow down. Lack forced me to learn even more to derive joy from Him, and not from the thingies that He provides. Nevertheless, most importantly, lack taught me deeper empathy. For the first time, I think I actually got a glimpse into the heart of the low class man, or the civil servant when the month has ended and ‘oga’ has refused to pay: the hopeless feeling of helplessness, the constant, low-key anger that is ready to burst into flames at the slightest provocation. I had always felt sorry for families in difficult times, but now, I felt connected to the fathers and mothers of families in difficult times. This wasn’t the perspective of the child, who is usually always protected from understanding the full impact of those terrible words ‘we don’t have money’. This was the perspective of the father who had to say those terrible words whenever he had to take care of something he usually did, but can’t at the moment.
Lack made me realize that at the end of the tunnel, there is always light. Lack made me realize that we are NEVER alone, no matter what we feel or think about it; God is there in the midst of it all.
I’m sure there are deeper things that happened besides all this, but for me, the realization of these things is what helps me accept that I didn’t suffer in vain. Thank God that the afflictions were indeed light and temporary.