Dayenu in Dire Days

I cried today. Partly because I am tired. Partly because it is a strange birthday for our youngest son. Partly because we are reading Pax, a beautifully written but sad book aloud for our temporary homeschool arrangement. Partly because I have been watching our housemate and his fiancee decide what to do about  their wedding next Saturday, a wedding they have been planning for half a year. Partly because my friends in the healthcare sector are tired and exposed to a disease that shows no signs of relenting in the near future.  All the partly’s make for a whole lot of emotion churning in my heart and the hearts of my little ones.

In the midst of the list of real emotions, the Holy Spirit was gracious to bring one word to heart and mind: dayenu which means “it would have been sufficient.”

In preparation for Lent (before the COVID-19 chaos), I read Christ in the Passover by Ceil and Moishe Rosen. Amidst ample fodder for adoration, one particular segment of the Jewish Passover grabbed my attention.

The Haggadah, a dramatic recounting of the ten plagues in which each plague is remembered with a drop of wine dripped from a glass into a saucer, immediately precedes the dayenu. 


Next, the grandfather or father poses a rhetorical question, “Is it for this [the judgements] that we praise God?”.

The household responds, “No, for God loved the Egyptians even as he loved us. But it is for God’s infinite mercies that we praise Him.”

Thus begins Dayenu, a happy song of gratitude toward God. After different memories of God’s mercy shown to His people, the household joins in the happy chorus, singing  “Dayenu” which means “It would have been sufficient.”

The angel of death passed over God’s people because of the blood of the lamb.
It would have been sufficient.  

God opens up the Red Sea so that His people might be freed from slavery.
It would have been sufficient. 

God provides manna for his complaining, hungry people.
It would have been sufficient.

God provides water from a rock for his thirsty, grumpy people.
It would have been sufficient.

I was convicted this morning thinking about Dayenu. What was coming out of my heart and seeping into my home was not a happy song. It was a grumpy song, a tired song, a worried song.

As such, we had an early recess so that I could train my heart to hum a happier tune.

In high school God intervened in my life, offering eternal hope through Christ.
It would have been sufficient.

In college God gave me a community to disciple me and anchor me in the faith.
It would have been sufficient.

God has paired me with a man who loves Jesus more than he loves me and my children.
It would have been sufficient.

God blessed us with three strapping, silly boys.
It would have been sufficient.

We have a home filled with food and laughter and tears (and some toilet paper).
It would have been sufficient.

I get extra time to better see and know myself and them (the good, the bad, and the ugly). It would have been sufficient.

In times that feel increasingly dire, may we practice Dayenu. In times when we are found to be wildly insufficient to meet the needs around us, may we look to the All Sufficient One. When we see Him face to face, it will be far more than enough to erase the suffering we have seen this side of glory.

Extended recess is now over. Back into the throes I shall now go with a better spirit thanks to the Holy Spirit.





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