Jamaica Patois Wisdom – Happiness

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: Mi belly full but mi hungry.

English: My belly is filled, but I am hungry.

Meaning: One may have the best of life but still be unhappy.

What do you suppose Adam and Eve were thinking as they were evicted from their home in Eden’s paradise and were prevented from ever entering again? Their stomach may have been filled with the forbidden fruit, but whatever satisfaction that fruit brought certainly did not produce any lasting happiness. It brought them separation from God and pain and sorrow. Satan is good at presenting his offerings, and they really look tempting. I love homemade strawberry ice cream, but it does not go well with diabetes. If I eat it, there is a price to pay.

The Psalmist Asaph was discouraged when he saw how the wicked prosper, but then he came to understand that their end was not happy.

Surely God is good to Israel, To those who are pure in heart! But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling, My steps had almost slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant As I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no pains in their death, And their body is fat… Behold, these are the wicked; And always at ease, they have increased in wealth. Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure And washed my hands in innocence; For I have been stricken all day long And chastened every morning. When I pondered to understand this, It was troublesome in my sight Until I came into the sanctuary of God; Then I perceived their end. Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction. How they are destroyed in a moment! They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors!” (Psalm 73:2-4, 12-19).

David wrote in the 37th Psalm: “Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers, For they will wither quickly like the grass And fade like the green herb. Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart” (Pslams 37:1-4).

There is an old song we sing—“Tempted and tried, we’re oft made to wonder, … why others prosper, living so wicked year after year … Farther along we’ll understand why.”

Sometimes we struggle to understand why Christians must suffer hardships when those around us seem to prosper and have a life of ease and luxury. Christ’s story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16 can certainly give us a perspective. Through all the trials Abraham faced, there was one thing that sustained him, his faith, “for he looked for the city which hath the foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10).

And then there is Paul, who suffered more than we can imagine (II Corinthians 11:22-28) who knew it was all worthwhile. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;  in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (II Timothy 4:7-8).

Please live in such a way that you can have the assurance of wearing that victorious crown.

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