God places the lonely in families … Psalm 68:6a NLT.
This verse stumps me.
It makes me think that families are a haven of one big welcome.
Some of the loneliest times in my life were in the midst of family. I bet Absalom could relate.
Joab sends a woman to appeal to King David, her story a fictional parallel she reveals later to convict.
13 She replied, “Why don’t you do as much for the people of God as you have promised to do for me? You have convicted yourself in making this decision, because you have refused to bring home your own banished son. 14 All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.” 2 Samuel 14:13-14 NLT.
God is one of reconciliation. I tell myself this over and over–even when relationships are strained, and ways are parted.
God is for reconciliation.
David allows Absalom to return, with conditions. For two years, Absalom never got to see his dad.
33 So Joab told the king what Absalom had said. Then at last David summoned Absalom, who came and bowed low before the king, and the king kissed him. 2 Samuel 14:33 NLT.
The chapter stops here, and I have hope to keep reading. (So I sneak ahead to the next chapter, and see that dysfunction and division are alive and well. It was not the happily-ever-after I hoped would wrap up neatly.)
8 I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. 9 Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. 10 For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. 2 Corinthians 7:8-10 NLT.
In the time Absalom was away from David, I think whatever sorrow he may have felt turned bitter with resentment and grew. Paul writes above to the Corinthians, and his words churn in my thoughts as I sip at coffee. The kind of sorrow that God wants us to experience, that leads us away from sin and results in salvation. And then there’s worldly sorrow, lacking repentance, resulting in spiritual death. Absalom’s sorrow will lack repentance (turning away from the sin) and lead to death–as it is today: relationships break apart in friendships and families; sorrow without change whittles away at everyone.
I examine the fractures in my life.
Lord, help me to reconcile without conditions so I don’t place stumbling blocks in front of a friend/family member. I want to be mindful of the condition of my own heart, turning from sin (please help me to see it!) and trusting in you. Where hearts are hardened, Lord, I pray that you will work on them. You are the God of reconciliation and restoration. I want to want that as much as you do. Thank you, that you don’t leave me where I am, but want to change me from the inside.