From The Kitchen Window - Trouble
Words by David Hollows
From the kitchen window – Trouble
All is not well in the winter garden, as observed from the kitchen window – there is trouble.
The rather plump looking squirrel has spent weeks hiding nuts in various parts of 3 different gardens, including digging up lawns, then going back regularly to check his hidden treasure. Some of the neighbours are not happy.
The newly planted crocus bulbs have been exhumed from the garden clay pots and ravaged by mice, so no spring colour here.
The robin with his puffed-out red chest has returned, claiming his patch and guarding it with all his might.
The blackbird has frequently attacked the freshly sown horse manure around the roses without regard to the paths which receive the chunks of discarded manure as the bird searches for grubs and bugs.
The hibernating hedgehog has been disturbed and has moved out to another safe place of refuge for the winter.
Finally, the local cats have used the now empty borders as their own personal lavatory. All is not well!
In comparison to the whole of last year, the troubles listed above are mere trifles, unless you are the hedgehog.
Photo by Sierra Narvaeth via Unsplash
On the one hand, there was the extreme heat in various parts of the world leading to vast swathes of land being burned, hurricanes and typhoons of great wind strengths causing immense flooding as well as the huge swarms of locusts which decimated immense areas of the east coast of Africa.
On the other hand, there have been the massive impacts of Covid-19 which have been clearly documented and chronicled all year including situations which never could have been imagined, such as queues to supermarkets and national lockdowns.
Last year was a year of troubles for billions across the world. All is not well!
The stories of God, as presented in the Bible, reflect the troubles faced by humanity, especially God’s people, for centuries.
In the Bible there are records of family feuds such as that between the brothers Cain and Abel or David and his son, Absalom.
There are the wars between the Philistines and the Israelites as well as civil war between King Saul and David.
There are famines (Joseph in Egypt) and floods (Noah and the ark), earthquakes (Paul and Silas in prison), storms (Jesus and the disciples on Galilee) and shipwrecks (Paul on his way to Rome). There is potential ethnic cleansing (Haman in the story of Esther), oppression (the Hebrews in Egypt), opposition (Jesus and the Pharisees) and persecution (Saul and the early church), betrayal and much more.
These are troubles indeed!
The story of Jacob in the Old Testament is a great example of trouble but it is also a fantastic example of how God can use trouble to have a positive impact on His world: from one man came one family and from that one family a community from which came a nation.
Let’s explore this and you may choose to read the whole of the Jacob story starting in Genesis chapter 25 and going right through to Exodus chapter 13.
Abraham is promised by God to have many descendants and the same promise is made by God to Isaac, the son of Abraham (Genesis chapter 25). Isaac’s wife Rebekah has twin boys and, even in the womb, there is rivalry between the boys as Jacob tries to prevent Esau being born first. As the boys grow, Rebekah favours Jacob whereas Isaac favours Esau and the rivalry grows to the point that Esau sells his birthright to Jacob who then steals the actual birthright from Esau by deceiving his father, with his mother’s support. What a family!
Jacob runs away from his brother but encounters God who, changed his name from Jacob to Israel, (Genesis chapter 32) and promised to bless Jacob in the same way as his father, Isaac, and his grandfather, Abraham.
The troubles continue for Jacob as he is deceived himself when Laban, his future father-in-law, gives Leah as wife to Jacob rather than Rachel, the woman Jacob loves. What an emotional mess!
Leah produces many children for Jacob who eventually marries Rachel who struggles to give Jacob two sons and dies during the second child birth. (Genesis chapter 30) The family troubles continue as the sons of Leah are jealous of Joseph, Rachel’s son, who is sold as a slave to Egypt where Joseph becomes the second most important person in the empire during a prolonged famine (Genesis chapter 47) which forces Jacob and his very large family to go for food and an eventual re-union with Joseph. A happy ending!
Not quite because in Egypt this large family grows into a community of people which have their own area of land, Goshen, but are treated as slaves until God calls Moses to go and rescue His people from slavery (Exodus chapter 13). After many troubles with Pharaoh, Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt and to the land promised to them by God for this new nation of people.
In the remainder of the Old Testament we read of the continued troubles the Israelites have: wars, civil war, exile and destruction leading to a diaspora which was not rectified until 1948 when the nation of Israel was created and which still has troubles today. From one man came one family and from that one family a community from which came a nation.
Photo by Kristina Tripkovic via Unsplash
So, what do we learn from this story of troubles?
That God was able to work miracles even from this family: He saved a community and an empire and from this family came His Son, Jesus.
That the God who travelled with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua and many others in the troubled life of this family and nation is the same God who travels with us on a daily basis.
That the God who allowed His only Son, Jesus, to come and live here on earth, to show us how to live and love, is the same God who delivered, protected, guided and provided for the disciples of Jesus and the early Church as He still does today, for us.
Have you troubles in your life? Then, turn to God who is ready and waiting to help you deal with them.
You may find the following hymn useful:
Through all the changing scenes of life (Mission Praise 702)
You may find the following prayer helpful:
God our healer, in sorrow and shame we bring you our brokenness, that you may touch, forgive and heal.
We bring you the cracks and chips in our most important relationships: the misunderstandings and hurts we engender in our families and between friends. We bring you the fissures and fractures of our worshipping communities: the intolerance of difference and our wrong priorities. We bring you the shards and fragments of our world: nations and cultures at war and the planet exploited for gain.
Give us, we pray, our God, dreams to bind and inspire us for the future, hearts to forgive one another and hands open for each other. Grant us your daily presence in the good times and the bad.
In the name of Jesus, we pray.
God bless you
Photo by Al Kawasa via Unsplash
Signing off; your local Lay worker, David Hollows