Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Town of Sorrow

Most Bible readers are familiar with the story of Abraham who called by God out of his father’s country to journey to Canaan, the Promised Land. However, hidden in the genealogy of Genesis 11, is the story of his father, Terah, who had already brought Abraham (Abram) halfway.

This is the account of Terah’s family line.

Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. And Haran became the father of Lot. While his father Terah was still alive, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, in the land of his birth… Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan.

It was Terah who had started the journey to Canaan but he never made it. Why?

But when they came to Haran, they settled there. Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Haran. (Genesis 11:27-32)

Back in biblical times, people lived for hundreds of years. Terah was the first recorded parent who lost a child. Although I have never experienced this, it is said to be the most devastating thing a person can experience. In this case Terah lived for decades after the loss of his son, he even managed to start his journey. But he settled in a place named after his son and never moved. He was half way there, and then stopped, never completing his journey.

The Bible tells us a few simple facts and we are left to wonder. What convinced Terah to start his journey? Why did Terah settle half way there? What led him to stop? Did he give up? Did he find a town named after his son and his grief hit him afresh and was unable to move on? Did he name the town after his son because he was unable to move on?

The thing about a town of sorrow is this:
It's dry, dusty, lonely, and dead
Terah got stuck and settled in his town of sorrow.

Isn’t this what we are tempted do? Surely grief takes time to heal. Some griefs are so deep that they leave a mark that never fades. But God does not want us to get stuck in our sorrow. God knows and understands. He was there weeping with us when our loved one died. Or maybe it was a dream that was lost, or a relationship that could not be reconciled. Maybe foolish choices cost you years of your life. Or maybe you have been profoundly wounded by someone else's evil or a seemingly random event. Whatever it is, it is sad, we need to mourn the loss. We need to feel it and allow ourselves time to heal.

Losses can change our heart for the better as well. It can deepen our empathy, recalibrate our values, strengthen our resolve, come to terms with our limitations, or recognize our sin. Loss can motivate us to do great good. Sorrow can slow us down, it can deepen our joy and it can expand our gratitude for our Savior.

But let’s not decide to stop our journey and live the rest of our lives in our town of sorrow. Let’s rest a while, catch our breath, but let’s not settle there until we die. The Lord has other plans for us and that’s why we are still here.

We should take what we learned from the sorrow. It happened. It mattered. It was important, life changing even. But it can be life changing in a positive way when we continue the journey.

Let’s go follow Him. Let’s find our future, continue our path. It is never too late to follow Him.

So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. (Genesis 12:4)

Father, help me be like Abram and Lot, never afraid, never too wrapped up in my sorrow to follow You. Thank You for reminding me that I am never too old to be called by You. You are my future and my hope!