But when Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found there a well of spring water, the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen, saying, “The water is ours.” Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over that also, so he called its name Sitnah. And he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he called its name Rehoboth, saying, “For now the Lord has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.” Genesis 26:19-22
If following Christ were easy, more would do it. Oftentimes the markers are hard to decipher. I wonder how discouraged Isaac was as he sought for a place to settle. Everywhere he tried to put down roots, there were obstacles.
Because a well was critical to survival, the first thing Isaac explored was an adequate water supply. At each site, he re-dug the wells that Abraham had originally dug, the very ones that the Philistines had filled in with dirt. I can imagine him celebrating as water bubbled up again in them. But then, arguments from resident people erupted about whose well it really was. Cramped quarters caused Isaac to move on. God used the selfishness of others and tight quarters to guide Isaac to his rightful place. Isaac named the 3rd well ‘Rehoboth’ ~ which means broad places.
It has been my experience that God has used cramped quarters and discontent to move me to my own promised land. But while I was conflicted, I misread my circumstances. I accused God of leading me to a place of unhappiness. I even second-guessed the steps that led me there.
Like my spiritual fathers, I can be called to camp somewhere for a little while. God shows me that it just might be time to move on when arguments erupt, and quarters become too cramped. My discontent is often a flashing marker that it’s time to gather my things.
I wonder if Isaac knew, from his father’s stories, that God uses adversity and the sins of others to guide His children to better places. Hmm, I seem to recall that Abraham and Lot were also cramped. God used that to separate them. Lot chose Sodom, Abraham went to his land of blessing. If I can stop writhing in my discomfort and ask God to show me the bigger picture, I would see my angst as a gift. It propels me out of my spiritual cocoon into my own ‘Rohobeth’.
Though pain has felt senseless in my past, there has been no such thing, Lord. You used it all for my good. Even, and especially, other’s sins against me. Amen