While I was pedaling away on our stationary bicycle this morning, my husband handed me a magazine and said, “You should read this article. The interview with the university president's wife reminded me a lot of you.” With some fear and trepidation, I began reading the article about a woman who had written several novels and loved to read. She was well-spoken and supported her husband in word and deed. I finished the article and set aside the magazine. Legs pumping my recumbent bike, I fumed: Boy, I wish I had her education, her way with words. I wish I was as well-read, well-published and as elegant in an interview as she. That woman has so much more ability and energy because she’s not limited by physical illness like I am. And to top it all off – she’s much prettier and definitely skinnier than me. That president's wife had it all together – intelligence, health, beauty, family. Hmmph. I kept riding my bike – that traveled nowhere. Sweat dripping, heart pounding – it hit me. My husband thought I was like her in some way. Shoe size, maybe? The little green-eyed monster whispered in my ear. But slowly, the warmth of love shielded the darts of envy. I was shocked, humbled, thrilled that my sweet husband viewed me with such favor. Then I picked up my Bible and read about Abraham. He, too, had Someone who thought highly of him – even when Abe himself might have judged his circumstances less gratifying than his brother's…
Gen. 22:20 – “Some time later Abraham was told, 'Milcah is also a mother; she has borne sons to your brother Nahor…'” (emphasis added)
- Many times, it's the messenger that determines our reaction to any particular news. I wonder who told Abraham of his brother's prized sons. Was it a wealthy merchant, sizing up Abraham's lonely, singular child, while Abraham traded for goods in Beersheba – a land not his own? Or was it one of Nahor's faithful servants, sent to Abraham to report their family's good fortune and God's blessing? The messenger and the method of delivery form our reaction to news like a potter works a lump of clay.
- Eight sons. Abe's brother had eight sons. Do you think he pasted on a little smile? Maybe said, "Oh, isn't that nice," while his heart ached a little at the long journey he and Sarah had endured for the single promised son, Isaac, in their old age. Or did he focus on the fact that he had heard the voice of God and been promised descendants beyond number? Abraham, like you and I, have a choice, when we hear that others have been blessed by the Lord. We can be jealous or joyous. We can focus on what we DON'T have or what we DO have.
- Regret. It's the first cousin of Envy. They sleep in bunkbeds and travel in tandem. When Abraham heard of his brother's concubine, did his heart yearn for Hagar – Sarah's maidservant, given to him to produce his first son, Ishmael? Did he regret banishing Ishmael and Hagar to the desert years ago? Did he wonder if they were safe? Or did he trust God with his past – believing God's promised protection for the boy and his mother? Regret is worse than doubt. It's doubt in reverse. It piles up the past with the present and makes a huge mess, leaving little room for God's future blessing.