Jamaica Patois Wisdom - Problems

by Jefferson David Tant

The Jamaican Patois dialect is colorful, unique and humorous. It is my desire to share some of the philosophy shown in this mix of colorful phrases that are witty as well as thought-provoking. I hope the readers both profit and enjoy. In my quarter-century plus of teaching there, I have come to appreciate some things about their culture.

Patois: Tek bad sinting meck laugh

English: Take bad things and make them into laughter

Meaning: Try to use your bad experiences to your advantage

If you have not experienced trouble and sorrow in your life, just be patient. It will come. Job declared: “For man is born for trouble, as sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). If you live long enough in this world, troubles will come. Just reading through the Bible gives evidence of the troubles, sometimes severe troubles, that the saints of old encountered.

The question is not “when,” but “how do we deal with them?” The story of Job is one of the great stories God has given us. I cannot think of anyone who suffered as he did. He lost all his herds and flocks and his 10 children died in a storm. He lost his health, and his wife and friends turned against him. Job did not understand and bemoaned the day of his birth. But through all his travails, he said, "‘Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.’ Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God” (Job 1:21-22).

How did Job deal with all this tragedy? He had an asset. He had faith. “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth” (Job 19:25). What a sublime statement. Job had something to look forward to.

Consider the apostle Paul. How many times he was in danger, stoned, hungry, cold, shipwrecked, beaten, imprisoned. When Paul was in prison, and others were preaching in an effort to cause him more trouble, he wrote: “What then? only that in every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and therein I rejoice, yea, and will rejoice" (Philippians 1:18).

Some wonder about James 1:2-3: “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” They wonder how we can rejoice when we suffer, when we are persecuted? Many years ago in the U.S. a young man named Charles Atlas weighed 97 pounds (44 kg), and was the object of scorn as he was considered a weakling. He decided to do something about it, and began a rigorous program of exercise, lifting weights, healthy eating, etc. In time he had a healthy and strong body, and was named “Mr. Universe.” But can you imagine the pain he must have endured as he put himself through his body building? Why did he do it? He looked for the reward. Thus James says our trials produce a reward. Every trouble we meet and overcome makes us stronger for the next trial. Every temptation we resist makes us stronger for the next one Satan presents to us.

Something else to consider is the fact that we don’t have to go through trials alone. “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble” (Psalms 46:1). “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me" (Psalms 50:15). The Psalms are filled with such expressions. Even when we are troubled with temptations, we have God’s promise. “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (I Corinthians 10:13). Now, we may go ahead and yield to temptation, but not because “I couldn’t help it.”

Rather than letting trouble overcome us, let use it to grow as we look to the reward. “I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body the church” (Colossians 1:24).