- Feuding bloodlines–children and grandchildren, rivalry passed down through generations. Genesis 25.
- A king’s pride at stake, in fact, the leadership of every household hinged on Xerxes’ treatment of Queen Vashti. She was banished for fear she would be an example to other housewives for her disrespect of her husband–that her contempt and anger would spread. Esther 1.
- Paul is imprisoned as a troublemaker. And while no one can back their accusations further, he stays in prison for several years. Acts 24.
- Jesus also speaks of division: nation against nation, kingdom against kingdom. Matthew 24.
9 “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. 10 And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. Matthew 24:9-10 NLT.
Paul is imprisoned, and for no good reason–but God works things out for good, what man means for harm. I am reminded of this in life, frequently–God’s good in the difficult things. Sometimes it takes a lot of searching to find the silver lining in a problem. Sometimes it’s sweet grace that gives understanding. And sometimes there is only wondering and waiting. Paul’s words are the underscore of a friend’s recent truth-telling to me: do the right thing.
16 Because of this, I always try to maintain a clear conscience before God and all people. Acts 24:16.
It’s advice that hits in hindsight too often. I’m working on it.
This week’s spiritual bootcamp has been painful as I’ve faced issues that stirred up anger.
Father, I’m thankful for scripture that spells it all out: that there is discord in families and in the world, but we are called to live lives that honor you. Thank you for your light, and good truth-telling friendships, to bring about change in my heart. Thank you for examples of real-life people who’ve struggled with the same feelings I have. Thank you for grace and forgiveness, that you don’t forsake me on tear-stained, foot-stomping days. And that you settle my soul for a good night’s sleep after a really tough day.
Just the other day, I heard a conversation at work about siblings. One woman said that she and her sister had spent the weekend insulating a “d— dog house” for her aging parents, and described the hilarity of the situation and how well they got along. Another woman described her sister as “crazy” for calling and trying to establish a relationship after 20 years of silence. Their mother had recently passed away and this sister sought solace in the family ties that bind. Then both of my coworkers turned to me and asked if I got along with my sister. A quick rundown of each family name (I have three sisters and two brothers) left me tripping over a few hurdles. I can immediately think of incidents that caused friction and even long periods of silence between us. Even worse, I remember my vicious attempts to get my mother involved in my self-righteous, indignant logic – hoping to manipulate her into making my sibling see the light, or more likely, hoping to convince her that I am the ‘good daughter.’
How dark is my own eye.
Esau saw red when he learned of Jacob’s treachery. He even wanted to kill his brother. Fury and calculated revenge replaced the great disappointing loss he felt. How does one begin to forgive in the midst of such thoughts? Time and lack of opportunity may save his brother from his wrath, but what of Esau’s soul sickness? That’s what I feel in my unforgiving.
A sickness of soul without hope of rescue.
I wish I could say that I’ve learned to forgive, keep short accounts, and humble myself for the sake of others, but even remembering these past incidents with siblings feels like poking around in the fire, looking for a reason to stoke it back to life. So even though I know to forgive, there is strong evidence of what the Apostle Paul says in Romans 7, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells, for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.”
Confession: “Deliver me from this body of death.”
That dark Hulk inside me who threatens, “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry!” must learn to surrender these hurts and injustices to God in order to cease from maiming and disabling the ones that I love. I know my family will be grateful to be spared my emotional whirlwind, and may even agree with me in saying,
“Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!”