The Story Isn’t Over ….

I was thinking recently about the fact that many stories in the Bible look pretty grim at some points.  For example:

Naomi’s husband and sons all die, leaving her alone and unprotected.  She returns to her home town, Bethlehem with nobody except her foreign daughter-in-law, Ruth to support her but ….. the story isn’t over yet.

Haman, a cruel advisor, manipulates King Ahasuerus into signing a decree that will lead to the destruction of the Jews.  Queen Esther’s only hope of saving her people is to go unannounced into the King’s presence — an offense punishable by death.  There is no way to know if she will succeed but …. the story isn’t over yet.

The boy, Joseph, annoys his older brothers so badly that they sell him into slavery in Egypt.  Things go well there for a while, until he is accused of rape and thrown into prison for years, but …. the story isn’t over yet.

Jesus is beaten and crucified on the cross.  His disciples scatter and hide in fear, but …. the story isn’t over yet.

God’s Word, the Bible, is full of stories that give hope to the hopeless.  That’s because the plan of God is to use even the bad things in our lives for good:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28

The coronavirus has been causing havoc around the world.  People are sick, some have died.  Others are afraid or depressed.  Jobs have been lost and economies damaged.  Shortages and hoarding have become normal.  Things are reopening, but we still don’t know what’s coming next.  We only know that the story isn’t over yet.

Maybe right now things are not looking good for you.  This could be because of the pandemic, or something completely unrelated.  If that’s the case, take heart …. your story, and God’s story aren’t over yet!

 

Sibling Relationships

Well, we’ve talked about friends and spouses and neighbors so it seems to me the time has come to talk about relationships with siblings.  Let’s face it, these can be fraught.  Sibling rivalry goes all the way back to Cain and Abel — and it didn’t end well.  There are a host of other dysfunctional siblings in the Bible — Joseph and his brothers (pride, jealousy), Jacob and Esau (deceit, favoritism), Mary and Martha (resentment, anger).  Nobody knows us better than our siblings;  they can push our buttons and return us so quickly to childish behavior and feelings;  they can also empathize with us in ways nobody else can.  They grew up with us in the same environment;  they competed with us for love and attention;  they understand our strengths and weaknesses.

My husband and I should be experts on sibling relationships — he comes from a family of 5, I grew up in a family of 7.  We used to say that when our kids were little, they had so many aunts and uncles that any adult who showed up regularly around the house was automatically assumed to be one!

When you come from a large family you learn that common DNA shows up in very different combinations.  We’re not all alike.  We have different talents, interests and even personalities.  We’re closer to some siblings than others — maybe based on age or temperament.  Somehow, though, we all feel the family connection and it’s comforting to be part of a group.  For better or worse, our siblings are our “tribe.”  The Greek word for family love is “storge” and it means a kind of rough and tumble, daily love which is not at all romantic or idealistic.  It’s a realistic love that has learned how to rub along together, despite all the mundane irritations and differences.

It strikes me that relationships within our congregation are a lot like that.  After all, aren’t we called to be brothers and sisters in Christ?  Don’t we have the same parent (our Father in Heaven?)  The same older brother as an example (Jesus)?  There are great temptations as we work together to become angry, resentful or prideful.  There are members we feel close to and others we can’t understand at all.  We may sometimes want to walk away from the “family.”  In the end, however, isn’t it a blessing to be part of the church body?  They know us, accept us, and love us through thick and thin (and even when they don’t like us very much). We have things in common that we can’t deny and don’t want to live without.

So today I’m giving thanks for all my sibs, biological and spiritual.  Life is better as part of the tribe.  I’d like some of our other authors to weigh in on the topic of brothers and sisters.

“…treat the younger men like brothers, ….younger women like sisters, in all purity.”  1 Timothy 5:1-2