HANDLING YEARS OF REGRET
And Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre. Now the days of Isaac were 180 years. And Isaac breathed his last, and he died and was gathered to his people, old and full of days. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him. Genesis 35:27-29
I’ve been doing some Old Testament math. It’s easy for there to be half a century between chapters. And, don’t we all know how long and momentous just one year can be? It’s important to comprehend how much time has gone by since Jacob has seen his father, Isaac. I believe it’s over 100 years. Isaac was 40 when he married Rebeccah, 70 when Jacob stole the blessing, and 180 when his father died. Since Jacob left just after stealing his brother’s birthright, that would make the absence many decades long. I wonder if Jacob ever thought he’d see his father again. Perhaps he reasoned that this was the bitter consequence of his sin.
God, in His mercy, allowed Isaac to live just until Jacob returned to his homeland. Esau was there too. Both brothers, long estranged, were there to say goodbye to their father and, together, bury him.
God is merciful. God is redemptive. But there are losses because of my sin. They become a permanent ‘thorn in the flesh’ as, like Jacob, it takes a long time to find my way home. There is a lot of wrestling with God along the way, striving to be blessed again. How do I handle the loss of years? How do I not ‘grieve without hope’ for the things I suffer today that were done out of sinful intent and/or blind ignorance?
Grace. My need for God to carry me through seasons of regret will bind me to Him like nothing else. In giving grace, He establishes His identity as ‘the Gracious One.’ My pain is transformed from bitter to bittersweet because experiencing God is such a powerful thing. It brings joy in the midst of my losses. Given enough time, I even become grateful for the shipwreck because it brought me to my Safe Harbor.
The word ‘gracious’ is one of my favorite words because You have given it wings in my life. Thank you! Amen