I was reading in Genesis 14 this morning, the story of early tribal warfare, if you will, where a bunch of kings teamed up together, fought and plundered some other kings, and essentially took Lot and all his household and animals with them. Abram did what would have been expected of family – he went and got them back. There’s some blessing with bread and wine, a conquered king asking for his household to be returned to him, and Abram giving back everything so that no one can claim they made him rich. Then the chapter ends. All is well again, and Abram (and Yhovah) are established as a force to be reckoned with. (Oh, and the tribal kings that rallied with him? They get some of the flock from the conquered king too so all is well with the neighbors as well.)
Chapter 15 opens with something intriguing for me. As God has done before, he makes Abram a promise – this time one of protection and reward. One would think reading it, that for a tribal head of household in ancient times, for God to promise protection and reward would be pretty amazing, wouldn’t you?
But let’s take a minute to hear Abram’s humanity here. Sit for a minute and realize this is a man who has left home. He’s in charge of a huge household of people. He has had God talk to him before, but maybe he’s not sure how to put the pieces together. Most of his everyday is doing the normal stuff – taking care of the flocks and his family household. Maybe relating to other tribal neighbors and building good relationships with them so they can have each others back. He has dealt with some rough stuff, and come out ok. He loves his wife. I’m sure he wonders about the future now and then.
Still, he is, in all sense of ancient life terms – living a blessed life.
One would think after God promises protection and reward, he would be encouraged. Yet listen to his reply:
“O sovereign Lord [Hebrew is actually adonai Yhova, showing he was replying in a reverent way] what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son?” (Gen 15:2a NLT)
You have to remember that inheritance in ancient times followed the sons, and so to NOT have someone of your own flesh and blood to pass down all your household inheritance to was heartbreaking. He didn’t have a daughter either as his wife was barren, so its not like he could pass it down to her and buck social norms.
Can you hear Abram’s utter humanity and heartbreak in his question? This is where I think we can find ourself in the story, if we can humble ourselves and listen.
“What good are all your blessings when I have (or don’t have) _______”?
I’m not talking about filling the blank with material things mind you. This is about when we can look around and recognize we DO have what we need – more than what we need really, when we have security and friends, maybe family and are on the other side of hard stuff – for the moment.
I’m talking about that thing you feel God has promised, that remains un-fulfilled, or the news you just got about your health or the health of someone you love. Or the fact that you just can’t seem to find healing from some past hurt, or your job is mindless and you see no way out. Or maybe your marriage is on the rocks, or you still, after all these years of wanting a spouse you just haven’t found the right one. Or you too, are childless.
Whatever it is, you know how to fill in the blank.
Here, we join with the first person we know that clings to the One who created the universe. We can echo the cry of Abram’s heart too…. I know you have blessed me Lord. I know I have what I need. I see your goodness. It’s registering, I’m not trying to be ungrateful. But still.
God doesn’t give him a direct answer, but he does take action. It’s bizarre to our ears but in line with how covenants would have been done in ancient times. He speaks to the future, not the immediate answer. He speaks to the fact he knows how time and Abram’s family line will play out hundreds of years down the road. Can you imagine?
He gives Abram hope.
I can’t say exactly what God is going to say or do for you when you come to him with this same cry – I see your blessing, but what about ___?
But He knows, he hears you, and he sees years beyond your questions and longings…. and I believe God is never silent when we come to him.
So whatever that thing is, my prayer for you is that as you can be honest with yourself and God, and come humbly before him for just a bit to let him bring HOPE back into your soul.
He hasn’t forgotten what you are facing. Let him love you and show you his faithfulness in the midst of your questions.
Blessings, my friends!