So as I mentioned last week that I’ve been getting lots of messages about acceptance lately. The phrase “kick against the pricks” came to mind one day and I decided to investigate it. I’d always thought of the pricks as being just any painful experience; sometimes crummy things just happen, and it’s useless to fight them. But then I found a much more interesting explanation at biblequestions.org (emphasis mine):
A large percentage of people in the first century were tillers of the soil. Oxen were used to work the soil. The prick or goad was a necessary devise [sic]. The prick was usually a wooden shaft with a pointed spike (prick) at one end. The man working the ox would position the goad in such a way as to exert influence and control over the ox. You see, if the ox refused the command indicated by the farmer, the goad would be used to jab or prick the ox. Sometimes the ox would refuse this incentive by kicking out at the prick. As result, the prick would be driven deeper into the flesh of the rebellious animal. The more the animal rebelled, the more the animal suffered. Hence, the statement to Saul: “It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” (Saul was rebelling against God.)
So, the pricks, or goads, are actually things that are supposed to be encouraging me gently forward – not just random spears of misfortune. That makes life a little easier to cope with.
I’ve also been reading the The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen. He describes man’s forays into the world of flight, pointing out that would-be flyers originally (and unknowingly) fought against natural laws – and failed. Only when they “recognized or harnessed the power of these laws, rather than fighting them” could they “fly to heights and distances that were previously unimaginable” (Introduction, xxii). I tend to do the modern-day equivalent of fighting natural laws with everything I can muster, and then feeling sad that mean old gravity is picking on me. I feel like I need to accept that gravity is there, first of all, and then learn to work with it instead of against it.
So, fighting = useless at best. Accepting and learning to work with God and the world –> not just feeling less crummy, but finding peace and happiness. Difficult lessons for a high-strung person to learn, but important.