In the Bible there is a tension that surrounds the word “normal”. Moses stretched out his hand and the Red Sea returned to normal after the previously enslaved people of God escaped on the dry path which was created by the winds sent by God to hold back walls of water. It was good that the sea had not been normal. Then it was good that it became normal again. Normal then meant that the enemy was crushed by the closing path (Exodus 14:27). On the other hand, Jesus said to a man with a withered hand, stretch it out, and it returned to normal (Matthew 12:13). Normal was good. Abraham’s misguided and unfaithful answer to God’s promise resulted in the birth of a son who was born the normal way while Isaac was “born because of the promise of God” (Galatians 4:23). In the Old Testament world, for a lamb to qualify to be sacrificed to the Lord it must be normal (Leviticus 22:23 NCV). It was anything but a normal day when the sun stood still for Joshua’s army and did not set in its normal way that day (Joshua 10:13 NLT). Because of the evil ways of humanity God adjusted the normal life span to be much shorter than what was normal before (Genesis 6:3). This was the “new normal” and it was not better. David did not do what kings normally did in his day and ended out yielding to temptation resulting in great grief (2 Samuel 11:1 NLT). Ezra lamented how abnormal Jerusalem had been in its history (Ezra 4:19 NLT). Daniel reported that King Nebuchadnezzar repented, and then his mental health returned to normal (Daniel 4:34). He had been acting like an ox and looked like a scraggly bird instead of a normal human being (Daniel 4:33). Normally it took eleven days to travel from Mt. Sinai to Kadesh-barnea; but it took the Israelites forty years because of their sin. Back and forth, normal is good and normal is bad.
Ecclesiastes 3 is a commentary on what is normal, and normal is not always constructive (3:1-8). The wise king’s solution is this, “God wants all people to eat and drink and be happy in their work, which are gifts from God” (3:13); but Ecclesiastes is a lament about how despairing life is in that whatever you do seems to make no lasting difference (3:18-22).
In telling us what the gospel is and testifying about how his life was changed by it, the Apostle Paul wrote. “Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I saw him” (1 Corinthians 15:9). The translators of the New Century Version render it this way, “Last of all he was seen by me – as by a person not born at the normal time.” Paul is illustrating the fact that he witnessed the resurrected Jesus at a time well after the eyewitnesses saw Jesus during the forty-day period before His ascension into Heaven. He is comparing it to a late birth. The pregnancy lasted beyond the expected birth date. He didn’t come as soon as he should have. Nevertheless, he witnessed the resurrected Jesus anyway. It did not matter when he was born.
The idea of a state of being that is ideally normal is overrated. There is no ideal normal unless normal can be used to identify a life that is squarely lived one day at the time, day by day, yielded to the guidance of Jesus. One day that may mean that I am open to being directed to a path that is different from the one I traveled yesterday. Another day that may mean that I travel the same path. One day it may mean that things are different and the next day things may be the same. Every day, I seek guidance from Jesus and follow in the direction that God guides. Whatever condition that God grants for me, I offer thanks.
“Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Don’t stifle the Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 CSB