Dayenu
Priorities

Dayenu

Posted by Regi Campbell on November 22, 2018

A few years back, a friend of mine died unexpectedly, and I was asked to say a few words at his memorial service. The guy was loved by a lot of people, and everyone felt sort of cheated that he’d died relatively young with so much ahead of him. A couple of days before the service, I was walking around with that deer in the headlights thing going on. I’d never spoken at a funeral before. “What in the world am I going to say?”

Then I remembered “Dayenu,” a Jewish song of gratitude song during Passover. Dayenu means “it would have sufficed” and as the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism describes, the song “thanks God for the myriad miracles that took place at the time of the Exodus. “Dayenu” can also allow us to express our gratitude for all that has taken place in recent times.”

During the Seder celebration, everyone gathers around . . . from the youngest to the oldest, to sing the Passover songs and “Dayenu” is one of the favorites. A few random lines from the song . . .

If He had split the sea for us,
and had not taken us through it on dry land
— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had supplied our needs in the desert for forty years,
and had not fed us the manna
— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had brought us before Mount Sinai,
and had not given us the Torah
— Dayenu, it would have been enough! 

If He had given us the Torah,
and had not brought us into the land of Israel
— Dayenu, it would have been enough! 

The cool thing about these Seder verses is there’s an inference that even though “it would have been enough,” God did more. Jewish Christians sometimes add a verse at the end of the song to point to Jesus. “It would have been enough that He was given as a sacrifice for our sins, but He was raised from the dead to prove God’s victory over sin and death.”

Some people carry “Dayenu” into the present tense saying “It is enough.” How rare is it to hear anyone in our culture say that? We always want more. I guess it’s no surprise that there isn’t an English word that means the same thing as dayenu.

To me, the word means to look back and be grateful for all that God has given without second guessing what could have been or what I could have had. It means contentment. Satisfaction. Thankfulness and gratitude.

Today as you meditate on what you’re thankful for or the next time you’re frustrated or disappointed, remember “Dayenu.” Say it yourself and to your Heavenly Father. He’s heard it from His chosen people for thousands of years. He’ll know exactly what you mean.

Scripture: At just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:6)

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