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 ESV
The pain Cain expressed had more to do with what he would suffer rather than what God would suffer. There was no thought that God’s heart was broken because he killed his brother for doing something holy. What was missing in Cain’s response to God was a real apology! He only considered the ways he would faint under God’s 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. Treacherous things are done. When the one who feels betrayed speaks up, and backs up, remorse is absent. But when the pain of consequences is felt, a token “Sorry!” can be offered. Considering this to be a proper apology, there is often an expectation that everything should be back to normal.
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 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 and about what I lost. I did not picture the face of my heartbroken Father.
Only You, LORD, can give me a true heart of repentance. Amen