GENESIS 23: WHEN SUFFERING IS THE NEXT STEP FORWARD

The death of his wife unexpectedly triggered a way forward from the impasse he’d been living in for more than sixty years.

1 Sarah lived 127 years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. 2 And Sarah died at Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. 3 And Abraham rose up from before his dead and said to the Hittites, 4 “I am a sojourner and foreigner among you; give me property among you for a burying place, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” (Gen. 23:1-4 ESV)

For six decades the couple had dwelled in Canaan as sojourners and foreigners. It was the land promised them by God. Home. Yet they remained homeless. The promise remained unfulfilled. Forever, it seems, they had waited for God to deliver their son Isaac. And now forever, it seems, they had waited for God to deliver a home. Yet after all these years, they still had no place or property of their own in Canaan.

Sarah’s sad death changed that. When the mourning and the weeping were finished, Abraham had to attend to the task of finding a place to lay her to rest. After investigation and negotiation, he purchased a field and a cave from a man named Ephron.

This was Abraham’s first piece of Canaan, first piece of the promise. A death led to a down payment on the entire land.

How surprising that this way forward would come from a place of pain and sorrow.

But that is the way of the God of the cross. He takes what appears to be darkness and uses it to bring light. He grabs hold of moments of defeat and uses them to bring us one step closer to victory.

Not all suffering is redeemed in such a clear and compelling way. But much is.

ACTION STEP

The next time you enter a season of weeping and mourning, consider this story. Remember how this funeral transformed into a first step into the promised land. Trust that God may use your pain for greater purposes.

PRAYER

Thank you God for your ability to take the darkness and transform it and redeem it. May you do this very thing today in my life and in the lives of all who are hurting.

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Chris Altrock

Chris is a spiritual director, the author of seven books, a father to Jordan and Jacob, a husband to Kendra, and has preached for the Highland Church of Christ in Memphis, Tennessee since 1998. Blog.

     
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