“Look, I’m dying of starvation!” said Esau. “What good is my birthright to me now?”
— Genesis 25:32
In the day, a birthright was a special honor given to the firstborn son. It included a double portion of the family inheritance along with the honor of one day becoming the family’s leader. The eldest son could sell or give away his birthright. By handing over his birthright to his younger brother, Esau acted on impulse. Seeking the immediate benefit of food, Isaac and Rebekah’s son showed complete disregard for the spiritual blessings that would come his way had he kept it.
We’d keep our inheritance if we always saw in the here and now how powerful, wonderful, and intervening God is. However, in times of hardship and loss (or our own hunger), we do what Esau did: we trade in our relationship with God for an immediate need or desire.
Here is something so obvious we so often don’t see it: we want a powerful, wonderful and intervening God, and we want this powerful, wonderful and intervening God on our terms. On our timetable. We want God to do things our way, and we want them NOW.
A justice-minded friend of mine regularly cries out, “Will, why is this all-present God you write about suddenly absent when a four-year-old neighbor has cancer, or why has the beloved family pet, now blind and deaf through old age, suddenly MIA for a week during brutal weather?”
We want what my friend wants — a God who immediately responds. More specific than that, we want a God who immediately responds in the way we think best. If God doesn’t step in and do God-like stuff like fix broken or hurt people (or pets) how then, we wonder, is God even good? How is God even worth our time?
The answers to these questions are not easy—or not easy to hear at first—but when we wait on God to be God we get something good, grounding, and guiding. What we get or gain is a relationship with God. That relationship is wonderful.
Yes, we suffer. Like Jesus, we were born into a sinful world where ugly stuff happens. But this doesn’t mean God isn’t there. Esau’s lesson for us today is not to give up or trade in God for a fast fix. Don’t dump God because God isn’t active in the ways you like or can see. Go deeper. Dig deeper. Your best relationships were not born overnight. They took time.
I mention an old dog here. Even a super senior Fido will want to bury a prized bone, thinking that the goodness (the gift) can be dug up and enjoyed later. Don’t bury God. Cry on Him. Lean on Him. Love Him. Listen to Him, and listen for Him.
PRAYER: God, I have two choices when I see pain. I can run from You or run toward You. Too often, I want the fast and easy fix. You want the relationship. Be patient with me until I see what You want. Amen.