It’s January 2ndand I’m already done with winter BUT I’m on track with reading the Bible through in a year. (Celebrate the successes, even if it’s only the second day!)
Day 2 was kind of brutal. Anytime God shows us the ugly in us it’s rough. My journal looked like this:
Read Genesis 4-7 God favored Abel over Cain and Cain killed Abel. Cain, the gardener, felt slighted, jealous(?) and perhaps not good enough. He wandered restlessly, apart from God. The familiarity is haunting. I am Cain and I don’t like it.
Things I’m thankful for 4. Revelation 5. Admission 6. Forgiveness
Anger. It can get the best of us, can’t it? Have you ever been there? I have. Dang, I hate being like Cain. But I’m grateful for this…
A Warning and a Way
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it. (Genesis 4:6-7NIV)
Why are you angry? Great question God!
There can be so many reasons (excuses?) to the question God asks. Some may even seem justified. I can be angry if I’m wronged or feel like I got screwed out of something that should have been mine. Anger can bubble just below the surface as a secondary emotion of hurt, confusion, rejection, insecurities, or insufficiencies.
I asked my man if maybe Cain felt the above things like hurt and rejection. His reply? He’s a dude. He’s pissed he didn’t get picked. So maybe you came out of the womb with a chip on your shoulder.
No matter the reason, when left unchecked it can cause us to do things we wouldn’t normally do; behave in ways we wouldn’t normally behave. React impulsively and lash out with no take backs available.
I know how restless I can be when all I want is to get my hands in the dirt but there’s another polar vortex in the forecast and spring seems years away. Maybe Cain was experiencing an extra long winter and he was just a grumpy gardener. Probably not.
It leaves us as a restless wanderer on the earth. (Genesis 4:12NIV)
God doesn’t tell Cain to not be angry but to check it before it gets the better of him. According to Carolyn Custis James, anger is a symptom not of how wrong God has gotten things but of our need to know him better. (When Life and Beliefs Collide pg 65)
When we believe He is for us and not against us, when we know His character and the love He has for us then we can trust that He will work things out for our good and His glory.
The warning: check yourself before you wreck yourself. (Don’t even open the door a crack!)
The way: master your anger by getting to know Him better.
Giving In and Getting Even
Did Cain listen? Nope.
The very next verse tells us that Cain took him out to the field and attacked his brother Abel and killed him. (Genesis 4:8NIV)
He opened the door wide and allowed the enemy to waltz right in. I would love to tell you I have nothing in common with Cain and that God got it wrong that morning he opened my eyes to being just like him. But I can’t.
No, I haven’t killed anyone in a fit of rage but boy have I let my words wound out of anger. I’ve allowed anger to rise above my covered up hurt and insecurities to treat others poorly. I choose to hold back (love, writing, kind words, sympathy, forgiveness…) out of resentment. I’ve even done a couple of I’ll-show-them things; things I cannot take back and the damage is done.
Lord help me.
Mercy’s Mark and Grace Given
Cain recognized his punishment of being banished as too hard to bear on his own and is afraid for his own life so he cries out to the Lord. God put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. (Genesis 4:15NIV)
That’s the mark of mercy. Cain did not get what he deserved. Grace was given.
There is another who, on a cross, bore mercy’s mark on His hands and feet, who keeps me from being destroyed by my enemy, who forgives my sins, who sees me, knows me and loves me in spite of myself. He provides a way so I don’t have to wander restlessly, apart from Him. Now that’s Grace.
Oh to know Him more and more so when anger rears it’s ugly head I can check to see where my theology is lacking, then thank Him for mercy’s mark and grace given.
I am Cain. I am forgiven.