grief

God loves those who hate Him.

God loves those who hate Him.

You love those who hate you! This was the accusation Joab leveled at David after the big battle where David’s son Absalom was killed. David was absolutely devastated by Absalom’s death, so instead of celebrating the victory of his "enemy," David returned home, weeping over the loss of his child. Apparently, Joab didn’t like that:

God is a tenderhearted father.

God is a tenderhearted father.

2 SAMUEL 18

Outside of Jesus’s cry of abandonment on the cross, this chapter contains, perhaps, the most heart-wrenching cry in the Bible: "O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!" (vs 33) Sure, at first you might think any father would be devastated over the loss of a child. But this wasn’t your average child. Absalom wasn’t a good boy. In fact, when he was killed, he had one goal in mind: to murder his father.

The Blessed Burden {gn36}

Photo © Unsplash/Jenn Evelyn-Ann

Photo © Unsplash/Jenn Evelyn-Ann

Esau is known as the one
who sold his birthright
and forfeited his blessing—
not the one "favored" by God,
not the one destined to be in that family tree,
not one of the "children of promise."

As between him and his brother Jacob,
Esau was not the "blessed" one,
but have you ever read a more blessed genealogy
in the entire Bible?

No barren women,
no tragedies,
no hardships,
no scandals,
no poverty—in fact, the opposite—
so much wealth the family had to move to a larger land.

By contrast, those "blessed" of God
met frequent hardship and troubles—
their genealogies littered with innumerable obstacles:
barrenness, injustice, illness, death.

It was after, after!  Jacob decided to
fulfill his vow to God
commit his life to the Lord and
return to the sacred place of his Creator
that his family was besieged by
sickness and unexpected death—
burying, in rapid succession,
first Deborah, then Rachel, then Isaac.

Is burden a blessing?
Is blessing a burden?

How is it they stroll together so comfortably
hand in hand
like lovers on a Sunday afternoon
in the park?

Eight {gn6:5-6}

Photo © Unsplash/Tim Marshall

Photo © Unsplash/Tim Marshall

There was no ark
to save God's heart
when grief crashed in like a flood.

            when
regret raindrops
            became
pain puddles
            that joined up into
remorse rivers
            that pooled into
lament lakes
            that merged into
sorrow seas
            and eventually yielded a
deep blue deluge
            over our terminal condition

No—
there was no ark
to save God's heart
when grief crashed in like a flood:

the grief of knowing
the ark he would send us
required room
for no more than
eight.

 

God has a soft spot for the unloved.

GENESIS 29

When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb,
but Rachel was barren." (vs 31)

I suppose there could be many ways to interpret such a verse. We could feel sorry for Rachel. Why should she be barren? It’s not her fault that Jacob was so in love with her. Then again, it’s not Leah’s fault that her father tricked Jacob into marrying her either.

Photo © Unsplash/Josh Adamski

Photo © Unsplash/Josh Adamski

How should we understand such a verse? Was God trying to punish Rachel because she was loved? Some people might try to pass this off as the writer’s interpretation of why Leah had so many babies and Rachel had so few. In a culture where the god was seen as responsible for everything, they reason, if a woman was barren, it had to be seen as God’s doing.

Photo © shutterstock.com/altanaka

Photo © shutterstock.com/altanaka

Regardless of the interpretation, though, I love how the writer of Genesis places God squarely in line with loving the unloved. He has a tender spot for the neglected. He has sympathy for the brokenhearted. And I love the idea that God comforted Leah all He could by blessing her with children... and male children to boot!

One of my favorite songs is a ballad by Wayne Watson called, "Friend of a Wounded Heart." Whenever we’re lonely or feel beaten down, neglected, or unloved, we should remember that our God has "been there, done that." He knows what it means to be cast aside. He knows what it means to be ignored. And there is a special place in His heart for anyone who has ever been unloved.