That last straw

Thinking about it, I remember that my mother used the expression, “that’s the last straw”, quite often when we, as children (and there were seven of us) brought her to the point at which we were probably better all going to our bedrooms and staying well out of the way for a while.  Just now, I detect that minor irritants are occasionally bringing people to breaking point, as they strive to keep focused as news starts to tilt towards the hopeful, but we know that our guard must not be dropped.

A few instances recently have underlined this, when someone, for no apparent reason at that moment has expressed frustration with particular vehemence.  Not that anything especially annoying has occurred, but it has simply been a build up, and something tiny has triggered a response.  It has happened with me over a discarded face mask, which in all likelihood had been dropped accidentally, but that doesn't register at this 'last straw' moment.  This really is of no importance, just a minor irritant lying there on the footpath.  But, so easily, it becomes, “Why does someone throw that down there?  As if the environment doesn’t matter now because we have a pandemic…….!”

I was trying to imagine is there anyone in the Scriptures that might be a little prone to a “last straw” type frustration, and I wondered about Thomas.  We know that the disciples were uneasy about Jesus going up to Jerusalem, and they were probably all a bit on edge.  In John 14, that we seem to be reading often at the moment at funerals, it is Thomas who responds to the news that Jesus is to leave his disciples with the question, “Lord we do not know where you are going, how can we know the way?”  Now, I believe that we usually take this as a thoughtful, almost reflective response, but it could be read as with a deep sigh, and a , “So, now where are we going?”  Equally, Thomas’ over-the-top response to hearing the news that Jesus has risen, demanding to actually put his fingers in the wounds, may be because he saw it as the final cruel act of tearing hope from him.

Whether it is true of Thomas or not, this “final straw” feeling is one well worth countering.  So, how do we do it?  Oddly enough, going for a walk may not work, as it gives us time and space to ponder our lot.  A different activity must be it, I think.  A musician can go and play some music, a baker should produce a cake, a gardener should go and get their hands dirty, and, yes, a prayer, should try a prayer.

John Mann