Genesis Day 54: Just when you think you’ve arrived…
You work hard. You struggle through. You make the hard choices. Finally, you arrive at your long-awaited destination. That place in your life that you have been hoping for and working towards. Now it is time to simply sit back and relax.
Then the phone rings.
Devastating news. A terrible diagnosis. A family tragedy. Events that we never dreamed would be a part of our lives, our history, enter our world. They feel like meteors, careening into our lives from out of nowhere.
They require we act, which often means we must change—or even abandon—the destination we long worked for.
We all have family and friends who, through seemingly no fault of their own, suffer.
And you don’t have to be a pastor to find yourself sitting opposite someone who has just had all hell break loose in their lives, when they ask, “Why did God let this happen?”
It is a natural question to ask. If someone asked me today, how would I answer them? As tenderly as I could, I would say, “If you knew the answer, would it hurt less?”
The real question to ask isn’t “why?” but “how?” How do I live today? Today. Not this week, but just today—how do I do it?
And it can be hard to turn to God at that moment. You feel let down, even abandoned by Him.
We come to a chapter in Genesis about the rape of a young woman. How to process this horrific act, how to process her brother’s actions, is terribly complicated. I am especially sensitive to a reader of this blog who may know someone, or be someone, who has suffered this violent act.
I am not trying to duck this issue. But I won’t be addressing directly what happened to Dinah, or her brother’s actions. This section of Genesis is about God and Jacob—in the midst of Jacob’s life.
I wonder what Jacob was thinking and feeling with the news of Dinah. Years have gone by since he arrived in this land. We know that because Leah’s children are adults. The text says Jacob “held his peace” as he waited for her adult brothers to return. He certainly had a flood of emotions. He no doubt was thinking, “what should I do?” I wonder if he asked God.
The text tells us what happened next. Notice, it is her brothers and not Jacob doing the negotiating. We see that there is more to this proposed marriage than merely an attempt at putting right a wrong. There is the intention of Jacob’s clan intermarrying with the Canaanites. Her brothers want vengeance, and they get it. They not only use deceit, they use the sacred act of circumcision as part of their ploy.
At this point Jacob acts. He acts to relocate his entire tribe.
Have you ever moved your home? If so, you know this is not a small undertaking. Imagine if you were moving your home because someone came and raped your daughter, and your sons murdered the offenders and their village – including their women and children.
You might be asking God, “Why?”
I wondered out-loud earlier if Jacob asked God. The answer is yes, for God speaks to Jacob about “how”. How to deal with this terrible situation that has come upon Jacob and his family. In Genesis 35:1, God says, “Go”.
I recently heard Erwin McManus say, “Faith doesn’t make your life easier, it makes you stronger.” Faith is leaning into God, especially when the events of life that crash into your world make you want to turn your back on Him.
When life disappoints, when the meteors hit, lean into God.