Responding to SufferingHow do you feel when your life is interrupted by suffering and adversity?
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When God Speaks
I will [create] you into a great nation (v.2).
I’m no gardener. The surest way to kill your flowers
or vegetable plants is to ask me to care for them.
So I marvel at those who are gifted at working with
all things green and growing. Some gardeners have a
practice (whether it is superstition or has merit, I can’t
say) of talking to their plants. They’ll lean over their
azaleas, daffodils, or young sprouts and whisper, chat
. . . even sing. They insist that their words spur growth.
The Bible regularly presents God as one whose words
bring things to life. In Genesis, humanity’s early history
is ugly. Repeated human rebellion leads to the desolate
admission that Abram and Sarai have no children. Sarai
is barren. Humanity, as a result of their attempts to make
life on their own, is desolate.
As Walter Brueggemann put it, “This family (and with
it the whole family of Genesis 1–11) has played out its
future and has nowhere else to go. Barrenness is the
way of human history. It is an effective metaphor for
hopelessness. There is no foreseeable future. There is no
human power to invent a future.”
Then, the story turns with these simple words: “The
Lord . . . said . . .” (12:1). God spoke into the barrenness
and chaos. It was as if He said, You’ve done your best,
and this is where it has gotten you—now step aside.
Still early in the Genesis story, these words remind us
of another time God spoke into darkness and chaos.
Before God began to create, the “earth was formless and empty, and darkness
covered the deep waters.” Into nothing, “God said . . . ”
God spoke and light erupted, vegetation blossomed, humans appeared. This
is still what happens whenever God speaks.
Read Mark 5:35. How did most of the people respond to Jesus’
words? How did Jairus’ daughter respond to Jesus’ words?
What is the barren place in your life right now? What do you sense God
is speaking into that place?
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