Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” Genesis 4:13-14
The pain Cain expresses has more to do with what he will suffer than what God has suffered. There is no thought that God’s heart was broken when Cain killed Abel for doing something holy. What’s missing in Cain’s response to God’s curse? A real apology! Cain never said, “I’m sorry.” He only considers his own skin and the ways he will faint under his punishment.
Do you know someone who expresses no remorse? They are simply, because of the state of their heart, unable to recognize what their sin against another causes. Many wives and husbands are cruel to each other. Hurtful things are said and treacherous things are done. When the one who feels betrayed speaks up, backs up, and expresses pain, remorse is absent. But when the pain of consequences is felt, a token “Sorry!” is expressed. There is an expectation that everything should be back to normal. He, or she, fails to know the repercussions of his actions.
All throughout Israel’s history, God qualified the kinds of tears they cried. God laid out the ground rules from the beginning. “Obey me and you’ll be blessed. Disobey and you’ll be led into captivity.” They did well under the leadership of righteous kings for short periods of time. Eventually though, they regressed and began to worship idols, throw their infants in the fire, and act disgracefully toward their God. The consequences were felt. God used enemies, like the Babylonians, to take His people as slaves. In their great distress, they cried out to God to deliver them. But God said, in essence, “You are not crying because you agree with me about your sin. You’re crying because you hate captivity.” Is this not like Cain?
I bring the message home to my own heart today. How often have I said, “Father, I blew it. I did ‘this’ and now I’ve lost what I treasured. Forgive me.” My apology was all about me, about what I lost. I did not picture the face of my heartbroken Father. Self-pity rather than remorse was expressed in my so-called apology.
Only You, LORD, can give me a true heart of repentance. Amen