When I was young, my brother and I would set up miniature army men and build forts. Then we would get a handful of rubber bands and take turns shooting at our opposing armies. This passage in Ezekiel chapter 4 remind me of those times because Ezekiel lays a brick on the ground and sets up twigs against it and on it to give the appearance of an army invading a city.
After that small prophetic display, Ezekiel is instructed to lay on his side for 390 days to symbolize the punishment that will be dealt to Israel and Jerusalem. While laying down he was required to cook a small portion of food over human dung. After a little pleading the Lord concedes that human dung may be a bit much, so God makes allowance for Ezekiel to substitute human dung for cow dung. As if substituting $%*& for animal $%*& makes a difference. I’m honestly not sure how this was a compromise, but I think it might depict just how frustrated God was with His people. Their only consolation in His judgment is that He could have made it worse.
Ezekiel himself must suffer, lying in one position for over a year, which seems impossible or at the least improbable to pull off. And the only consolation God offers is a poop substitute which just so happens to be a different kind of poop.
Our lives can feel like that sometimes, hopefully only for seasons. Sometimes our only consolation is the crap we eat doesn’t taste as bad as it potentially could. And that somehow makes life easier to swallow. God’s mercy seems to not overflow, yet He still spares us. Ezekiel learns to find God’s kindness in an extremely small matter, but it sustains Ezekiel to keep on going in the calling and plan God has for him.