How Do You Handle a Broken Promise?

And when Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep,” she took off her widow’s garments and covered herself with a veil, wrapping herself up, and sat at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that Shelah was grown up, and she had not been given to him in marriage. Genesis 38:13-14

People can make promises to someone in pain. “If you’ll just stop crying, then …..” Distress makes them uncomfortable and they’ll promise about anything to make the pain go away. Here’s the flip side. Never are we more vulnerable to a promise-maker than when we are in great need.

Tamar married the first son of Judah. God killed him because he was evil. She married the next son of Judah. He was wicked also and God killed him. Though He was protecting her, it probably didn’t feel like it. Perhaps she wondered if she was a curse. Everybody connected to her was getting killed. Can you imagine her grief and confusion?   People in that culture did not grieve quietly. They wailed. In this environment, Judah stepped up and offered his youngest son but Tamar would have to wait years for him because he was young.

While others her age were having children, she was waiting. While others were enjoying their young families, she was waiting. It was a painful day when she realized that Judah forgot or disregarded the promise he had made to her. Realizing that she might remain a widow forever, she took matters into her own hands. She dressed up as a cultic prostitute and waited at the gate where those attending a Canaanite sheep-shearing festival would pass. There, she hoped to snare Judah and sleep with him to get her heir. The one who had broken the promise would be tricked.

When someone makes me a promise, I can own it and feel entitled to it. It’s already mine. When denied, I can set out to force it out of the promise-maker’s hands. “You owe me!” Manipulative tactics instead of prayer are implemented.

Those who intentionally break promises are betrayers. Never are they in more danger than when I put them in God’s hands instead of my own. ‘Forgiveness is taking someone off my hook and putting them on God’s hook.’ I must remember that when someone breaks a promise, God is the One who joyfully keeps His Word and redeems every broken promise with something infinitely better.

I lay down my need for revenge. Like Jesus believed, I know You rule righteously. Amen

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