Don’t Drink the Bitter Rain

There is a Burmese idiom: “Drinking the Bitter Rain.” It came from a fable about a man in an ancient village who somehow foreknew that the upcoming rain would be poisonous. It would taste bitter and cause insanity if people drank it.

In that village, every home collected rainwater for drinking. So, he announced his forecast and warned people not to collect the upcoming rainwater and never drink from it, or they would become mentally sick. However, they ignored his warning and went ahead to drink it like they always did. As a result, the entire village lost its sanity.

He was very upset to see everyone go crazy and wished they had listened to his warning. The problem is, now everyone thought he was insane. Of course, when you are the only lucid person among loonies, you are the one that appears lunatic because you behave differently.

His anxiety intensified as everyone pointed their finger at him every day, laughed at him, and called him a fool. After a while, he became lonely and felt if he didn’t join them, he would lose his mind. So, he drank a cup of the bitter rain and joined the party.

So, when you hear your Burmese friends say, “I drank the bitter rain,” they mean, “I went with the flow,” or more precisely, “I surrendered to the peer pressure,” or “I drank the Koolaid.” The subtle difference is that they gave in, knowing it was harmful.

Would you drink the bitter rain? I am sure you wouldn’t, but when the pressure is high, will you give in? What’s your threshold for drinking the bitter rain? I think this fable speaks to our times.

Before Jesus left for the cross, he warned his disciples that the world was heading to insanity and his followers would face a great deal of pressure and temptations to give in to drink the bitter rain. Otherwise, they wouldn’t fit in. Jesus said,

And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Mat 24:12–13).

It’s easy to talk about love, but your love can grow cold when you see too much lovelessness and lawlessness around you. You will appear insane to practice love in a ruthless society. Just watch the news, and all you see is a dog-eat-dog world.

It becomes worse when they take advantage of you. You would be tempted to retaliate by becoming like them.

Jesus wants you to endure to the end. That means not giving in to drinking the bitter rain even if the whole world ridicules you. He said things would become worse as we approach the day of his return. He teaches us to be alert but not alarmed at times like this.

So, today, we will learn from Jesus how to resist drinking the bitter rain and keep our body, mind, and spirit awake and endure the trying times with light, love, and lucidity until he comes. Let’s begin!

[Hi, in case we haven’t met yet, I am Sam Stone, the Lightkeeper—you are the light of the world, and I am the keeper! (No pun intended). It’s my calling to help you shine your brightest so that God is glorified in you, and you are satisfied in God.]

The Scripture lesson today is from the Gospel according to Matthew 24:36-44. [Listen to the Word of the Lord!]

“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39 and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour. (Mat 24:36–44).

[Happy are those who delight in God’s Word. Thanks be to God!]

Today is the First Sunday of Advent, which is always sandwiched between the shopping days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Did you get any good deals on Black Friday? If not, you still have another chance tomorrow on Cyber Monday.

I tried to browse the sales to help the economy, but I saw few things I needed. I heard of a couple who went shopping at a mall. They had just purchased a piece of luggage and a cooler at a nice discount.

When the wife went into a women’s clothing store, the husband dragged the luggage and cooler to the shoe department. A clerk approached and asked if he could help him.

“No, thank you,” he replied, “I’m just waiting for my wife.”

A man behind him said, “Wow, I’m waiting for my wife too, but I never thought of bringing my lunch and luggage.” (End joke.)

We’ve seen on TV that some people get up early in the cold morning, lining up in front of some stores that offer steep discounts. Some even died in the stampede.

Interestingly, the scripture lesson for the First Sunday of Advent is always about the second coming of Christ and his warning against worldliness. This vital message is also sandwiched between the two shopping days. What if we put what Jesus says in our context? He says,

For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man.” (Mat 24:38-39).

Putting these verses in our context, Jesus is saying that as we are busy shopping and going about daily life, we could miss the boat if we are unaware. He is not against shopping, eating, drinking, or marrying but about being consumed by our consumables.

Noah was like the man who foresaw the bitter rain. He went about warning everyone about the great flood if they didn’t repent from lawlessness and lovelessness, but they ignored him and ridiculed him.

So, the flood became imminent, and the Lord wanted him to save innocent and helpless animals. It’s an act of love. He looked even more like a fool when he started building the ark on the hill. It took him several decades to finish the project, but he continued to exercise his love in a ruthless society and endured to the end.

Jesus said his second coming would be just like that. He wants us to keep awake and alert. He told four parables following this warning to teach us how to stay awake. The key verse is verse 43:

“Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” (Mat 24:43).

By telling us to “keep awake,” Jesus is not encouraging insomnia but to be like Noah, not giving in to drinking the bitter rain no matter how high the pressure becomes. The Bible also uses the term “getting drunk” or “falling asleep” to illustrate losing lucidity.

Over a hundred verses in the Bible advise us to keep awake and stay alert. Peter also warned,

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 ESV).

Again, the purpose is to alert us, not to alarm us. Based on what Jesus taught us, the devil cannot devour you if you keep your love alive. That’s a mystery.

A friend told me that in Africa, children walk through the desert to go to school, passing by the habitats of lions and other wild animals. They are taught to walk with a straight back, chin up, and chest forward, showing no fear like a warrior because they become food for the lions when they appear afraid or alarmed.

He says most people who get killed in the wilderness are those who are drunk. It seems they provide meat marinated with liquor for the lions. In the same way, those who are spiritually drunk or drowsy become the devil’s prey.

That is a perfect illustration of the end-time attitude. Be alert but not alarmed. Don’t get drunk or fall asleep.

Let us look at how Jesus taught us to keep awake based on the four parables following this passage. I won’t go through each parable because they are long, but I will give you the core principles of the teaching, and I encourage you to read them by yourself to absorb the wisdom.

Based on these parables, you must make three determinations to maintain alertness. The first one is Determine to Die in Action

1. Die in Action

“Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives.” (Mat 24:46).

That is from the first parable—The Parable of the Faithful Slave. Jesus wants to see you working when he comes. If you don’t want to drift, be determined to work until you meet the maker.

You hear people brag about retiring early, but, as believers, we have eternity—thousands and thousands of years—to enjoy on the other side, so why would you retire early? If you believe God has prepared for you the best retirement on the other side, you would rather die in action.

I saw an interview with a Japanese entrepreneur and a mushroom scientist living in China for over thirty years. At the end of the interview, the reporter asked, “You are seventy now. Most people retire by sixty or sixty-five. Why are you still working?” (These are not the exact words but my paraphrasing.)

He said, “What should I do if I retire—get another wife, goof at the beach, play chess at the park, or get drunk with the old men? I find it meaningless. I want to die working and leaving a legacy to the next generations.” I like that kamikaze spirit.

Jesus died in action. He worked until the last minute. Even when he was suffering on the cross, he prayed for forgiveness for the people, preached to the thieves crucified next to him, and showed love and grace until his last breath saying, “It’s finished.”

A meaningful life is not finished until the last breath. “Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives.” Determine to die in action so you will be awake. Determine to die kicking the buckets of the bitter rain.

The following parable is similar—The Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids. It talks about shining your light until the Lord comes. Die in Action!

The second determination is to Die in Honor.

2. Die in Honor

For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.” (Mt 25:29).

It’s from the Parable of the Talents. Not only does Jesus wants you to die in action, but he also wants you to die in honor by proliferating your resources or die fruitful. It’s about being a good steward.

Jesus has invested in you with seeds of the kingdom, and he wants you to sow the seeds and reap abundance. You are born with a special gift, and he expects you to use your gift to expand the kingdom. The more you use your gift, the more honor you receive.

During the interview with the Japanese entrepreneur mentioned above, he said he had adopted the life principles of Zhang Zai, an ancient Chinese premier and philosopher, which includes four purposes of life:

To promote mindfulness for Heaven and Earth,
To establish divine destinies for the people,
To carry on the lost teachings of past sages,
To extend peace for all generations.
~Zhang Zai

He said that’s how he wanted to spend the rest of his life. He continues to work NOT for the money but for a higher calling. That’s what brings meaning to life.

Jesus wants you to die in honor because you can die in action by merely maintaining his kingdom without expanding it. The third servant in the parable buried his money. It’s like doing the minimum. So, he also died in action, but Jesus said maintaining the status quo is laziness. Jesus wants to see fruitful and prolific actions.

Don’t misunderstand it as if Jesus asks you to slave through life. If you have a higher purpose, you don’t feel like you are working at all. That leads to the next parable, in which Jesus takes us to the highest level of living: Determine to Die in Unconscious Love.

3. Die in Unconscious Love

“Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Mat 25:40).

In this parable, Jesus talked about the highest level of living. It’s living through unconscious love. There are four levels of love.

1. Unconscious Hatred: Those who do evil without knowing it. They know nothing about love, and that’s the worst way of living. They are in total darkness.

2. Conscious Hatred: Those who do evil, knowing what’s evil. These people have a little hope because at least they know what’s wrong. They need to repent.

3. Conscious Love: Those who love others intentionally because they are taught to love. That’s good but not good enough because they practice love with an ulterior motive. It’s like dying for the honor. Still, that’s good, but not the best.

4. Unconscious Love: The most honorable love is unconscious love. Mothers don’t love their children consciously. They don’t say, “I must love my baby because I am the mother.” They nurture their children without thinking.

This last parable is known as “The Judgement of the Nations.” Many people are surprised that they get to enter the kingdom. They asked why do I deserve it? Jesus said,

“Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Mat 25:40).

In other words, these people practice love unconsciously. They do good deeds without knowing it because love becomes them. Jesus will judge the world based on unconscious love. That’s the purest love—the childlike love.

If you observe children, you will discover that they love to give it to the needy without being taught. As we grow up, we lose that unconscious love as we drink the bitter rain.

So, learn to love consciously and make it become a habit—personify love—because that’s the highest level of living, according to Jesus. At that point, you don’t even think about drinking the bitter rain. So, here are the three steps to stay awake:

Determine to:

1. Die in Action
2. Die in Honor
3. Die in Unconscious Love

That’s it for today. I hope you find this message illuminating as much as I enjoy receiving it from the Head Office. Until we meet again, keep your light shining brighter and broader, and harvest the fruit of profound freedom and happiness.


Bye now!

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