'A Lonely House'

Monday Reflection

3rd August 2020

'The lives of its tenants are reduced'

Revenge builds a lonely house.
Space enough for one person.
The lives of its tenants are reduced to one goal:
make someone miserable. They do.

No wonder God insists that we

"keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent.
 A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time"
    (Hebrews 12:15).

His healing includes a move out of the house of spite,
a shift away from the cramped world of grudge
and toward spacious ways of grace,
away from hardness and toward forgiveness.
He moves us forward by healing our past.

Can He really? This mess?
This history of abuse?
This raw anger at the father who left my mother?
This seething disgust I feel every time
I think of the one who treated me like yesterday's rubbish?
Can God heal this ancient hurt in my heart?

Joseph asked these questions.
You never outlive the memory of ten brothers giving you the heave-ho.
They walked away and never came back.
So he gave them a taste of their own medicine.
When he saw them in the breadline, he snapped at them.
He accused them of treachery and threw them in jail.

"Take that, you rascals!"

Isn't it good to know that Joseph was human?
The guy was so good it hurt.
He endured slavery, succeeded in a foreign land,
mastered a new language, and resisted seductions.
He was the model prisoner
and the perfect counsellor to the king.
Scratch him, and he bled holy blood.
We expect him to see his brothers and declare,

"Father, forgive them,
for they knew not what they did"
(see Luke 23:34).

But he didn't.
He didn't because forgiving is the hardest trick in the bag.
We will feed the poor and counsel the king.
Why, we'll memorize the book of Leviticus if God says to do so.

Don't let the sun go down
while you are still angry (Ephesians 4:26)?

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour,
and evil speaking be put away from you,
with all malice (Ephesians 4:31)?

As Christ forgave you,
so you also must do (Colossians 3:13)?

Really, God?

I have a friend who was six years old
when her mother ran off with a salesman,
leaving her to be raised by a good-hearted dad
who knew nothing about dolls, dresses, or dates.
The father and daughter stumbled through life
and made the best of it.

Recently the mum reappeared,
like a brother out of Canaan,
requested a coffee date with my friend, and said,
"I'm sorry for abandoning you."
The mum wants to re-enter her daughter's world.

My friend's first thought was, That's it?
I'm supposed to forgive you?
Seems too easy.
Doesn't the mum need to experience what she gave?
A few years wondering if she will see her daughter again.
Some pain-filled nights. A bit of justice.
How do we reconcile the pain of the daughter
with God's command to forgive?

Isn't some vengeance in order? Of course it is.
In fact, God cares about justice more than we do. Paul admonished,

Never pay back evil for evil...
never avenge yourselves.
Leave that to God,
for he has said that he will repay those who deserve it
(Romans 12:17, Romans 12:19).

We fear the evildoer will slip into the night,
unknown and unpunished.
Escape to Fiji and sip cocktails on the beach.
Not to worry.
Scripture says,

"God will repay," not He "might repay."

God will get through this;
execute justice on behalf of truth and fairness.

Case in point?
Prepare yourself for the most surprising turnaround of the Joseph story.

After three days Joseph released all but one brother from jail.
(to be continued)

'While the cat is away....'