Tag Archives: struggle

Exodus 21 – Treatment of Others

Yesterday was on the 10 commandments and the Israelite’s reaction to God, so i don’t know what i expected for chapter 21, but it certainly wasn’t this.  To put things in perspective a little bit; there were originally no chapters and verse in the scriptures.  They were added later on to help people study and reference the Bible better.  As a result when the text was originally written, there was no real division between what was commanded in 20 and then in 21.  So, God gave the people the 10 commandments / promises, then almost immediately we get into the topic that opens chapter 21: slavery!

Now i know that back in the day both supporters of and those opposed to slavery used the Bible to prove their point of view.  Ultimately though, it was those who understood that God’s view of humanity being created in His image and his redemption bringing equality to all that overcame and was a driving force in especially Great Britain’s move to make slavery illegal.  But when i started copying this chapter over it hit me.  Almost immediately after giving the 10 commandments / promises God begins the rest of the law and legal instructions with rules about slavery?  Isn’t that a huge piece of evidence that God is in SUPPORT of slavery?  Doesn’t that justify that abominable practice?

I was really struggling through this idea and concept for a good chunk of my writing this morning.  It was really bothering me.  Then, as i was writing, struggling with this, and questioning God about it; He brought an answer to my mind.  It’s not that He supported slavery.  It’s that He knew slavery was going to occur no matter what.  He set His 10 primary promises / commands then immediately He set the rules to protect those who would end up as slaves.  It wasn’t an attempt to encourage the mistreatment of His creation.  It was making it a priority to protect those least able to protect themselves.

The chapter continues by dealing with how to respond to murder / accidental deaths from other people as well as animals.  Obviously this is a very important aspect of the law to deal with.  This theme of protecting the innocent continues with the instruction that if two men are fighting and a pregnant woman is struck resulting in premature birth but no harm is done, then the husband may demand any fine he requests.  If there is an injury it is an eye for eye, tooth for tooth, burn for burn, hand for hand, etc.

If we call ourselves Christians, are we protecting those less able to protect themselves?  Do we live our lives taking responsibility for those around us?

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Exodus 1 – Purpose?

Today has just started as one of those days.  I got up, got my chapter done, and in a short 21 verse chapter i just could not stay awake.  It took me quite a bit longer than it should have.  Afterwards i immediately went back to bed and crashed… hard.  This project can be a real struggle sometimes.  I love it, and i love doing it, but on days like today i just want to quit.  I wonder if it’s really worth getting up two hours early to get the chapter copied over and the post written?

Add to that the fact that i am a man in my early 30’s and i feel like i have accomplished nothing in my life.  That’s at least a third of my life gone, with what feels like nothing to show for it.

Then i look at this passage, and i wonder.  Joseph was a man who did what God called him to do.  He put all this work, time, and effort into being the man of God that was needed for the time.  God spent all that time prepping him, and he worked so hard for Pharaoh.  He perhaps single handedly (with God’s direction) saved the lands of Egypt and Canaan from a major drought that would have left the land barren and the people starved to death.

He did all this, and “(n)ow a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.”  This new king owed everything he owned to Joseph, but that didn’t matter.  Joseph struggled, worked, and toiled all his life, helped Egypt to grow in prosperity and strength, and it doesn’t matter.  The king saw all of the Israelites in the land and decided that that was going to be his target.  Joseph’s work and all that he did didn’t mean a thing to this Pharaoh.

I struggle with this because, if all that Joseph did ceases to matter, and he, with God’s direction, did some amazing things, how much more I.  Do i even matter?  Does anything that i could accomplish really matter?  I’ve gotten this far into my life, and it feels like i have accomplished little of real value, but even if i did, does it really matter?  Fifty years after my death, will anyone even remember me or what i have done?  If they do, will they even care?

 

John Camiolo

P.S.  I know, i know.  Many of you will point out that what Joseph did did matter.  After all, we know Joseph’s story, and it was all a part of God’s much bigger plan.  Also some will say that it’s not about our credit here, but we are storing up treasures in heaven…  I understand these concepts and more, but there are times when the facts get buried in how we feel.  And that’s where i’m at today.

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Genesis 41-2 – Purpose

So Joseph does what he has learned to do.  First he answers the question that Pharaoh poses to him.  What does this mean?  Then, without being asked and it appears without even a pause  he answers the question  that results from his answer.  He starts out be telling Pharaoh what his dreams mean.  There will be seven years of great abundance followed by seven years of great famine.  Then he tells Pharaoh what needs to be done to prepare for and respond to the coming famine.  One fifth of the produce of the land during the abundance needs to be stored away for the famine time.

As a result, Pharaoh sees God’s hand and blessing on Joseph and places him over the entire nation of Egypt.  Joseph was 30 years old at this time.  He spent almost half of his life as a slave in Egypt, and most of that time was spent in prison.  But the whole time, God had a purpose for him.  He wasn’t doing nothing and watching his life waste away.  He wasn’t stuck with no hope and no future.  God had a purpose for him, and this was that purpose!

God was preparing Joseph to not only excel, but to become the second in command of Egypt; to provide leadership and wisdom to prepare the people and nations for the coming blessings and famine; to save not just lives, but nations from perishing in the flood of famine that would hit for seven years.  God had a plan, and that plan had a name.  It simply took a life of disappointment and overcoming to prepare Joseph for that purpose… a purpose that was revealed and a change that was laid out, all in 1 day.

How do we see our lives?  I know that i struggle sometimes trying to see how and why my life has turned out as it has.  I have seen people pass and surpass me in life, and i wonder, ” Why do they get blessed, and it seems like i don’t?”  Why do i so often feel rejected and pushed away by God.  I know that that’s not really the case and that God has a plan for me as well, but i can’t help feeling sometimes that i have been abandoned and left to rot in prison for some unknown reason.  I know it’s not really like that, but that’s how it feels sometimes.  Ultimately though, I know that I have a hope, and that God has a plan.  That it’s not really about me.  It’s about Him, and i have to make sure that i don’t get myself in the way.

So what is your struggle?

John J. Camiolo Jr.

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Genesis 39 – God’s Blessing

Well, it looks like i labeled yesterday’s chapter 39 instead of 38.  It’s fixed now, but if you were confused as  to why Genesis 39 didn’t have anything to do with Judah and his family, that’s because it doesn’t.  It was supposed to be Genesis 38.  Well, now on to the real Genesis 39.

Why does it seem at times that God’s blessing is immediately proceeded by some sort of trial or struggle?  At times through my life it has felt like the moment things start going right and smoothly, that is the moment it all starts to fall apart.  It feels like i just start to bounce back from one problem and… BANG!  I’m hit by the next.

That’s what appears to be happening here in Joseph’s life.  Joseph was a good young man, but his brother’s were jealous of him and his father’s favoritism towards him.  So they tried to make him miserable.  In turn God blesses him with dreams foretelling a future in which his brothers will bow down to him.  At which point his brothers decide to kill him, then at the last minute sell him as a slave.  So he gets sent down to Egypt and is sold into the household of an important leader.  Joseph does the right thing and God blesses Him.  Joseph continues to do  the right thing and as a result of doing the right thing he ends up accused of something he didn’t do with no way to defend himself.  So now he’s in a maximum security foreign prison with no hope of release.  I mean honestly, how much lower can a guy get? So what does he do?  He does the right thing.  He does his job well, and he becomes the most respected prisoner in that foreign maximum security facility.

Where is that going to get him.  Every time he does  the right thing and begins to excel beyond his situation, he loses out.  He drops deeper and deeper, like a man falling in a pit trying to climb out and each time he finally starts to make progress, he falls deeper in.

For those who already know, we know where this is going.  For those who don’t, this isn’t the end.  At one point in my life as i saw this happening, God spoke to me.  He told me that He loved me and not to worry.  Do you know what my automatic reaction was?  My reaction was, “Oh great, NOW what’s going to happen?”  You see, this had become my mentality.  This is how i had begun to see God and how He worked.  I began to believe that as soon as God began to bless me, it was just a predecessor to another trial… to another struggle, and i began to lose hope.

I know better now, but this is still how i feel sometimes.  I know a number of you can relate.  If that’s where you are.  You feel like it doesn’t matter how much you try… how much you do the right thing time, and time, and time, and time, and time again, and it seems like it’s a waste of time and life.  Well it’s not.  There is hope.  There is always hope.  It may not feel like it but God does love you, and He is taking care of you.  It’s never as bad as it seems, so just trust Him!  (I know, easier said than done sometimes, but do it anyways.)

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Genesis 38 – Sins of the Father

How many know that it is good to have passages and concepts that you struggle with in regards to God and the Bible?  If you didn’t have any at all, I would be concerned with your spiritual state.  This has been one of those chapters for me over the years.

So Judah marries a Canaanite.  He has three sons.  The first is evil in the sight of the LORD and dies.  The second is to raise up a progeny for his older brother with his older brother’s wife.  He decides that he wants to take/lie with his brother’s wife, but is not interested in fulfilling his duty (promise) as a brother.  God takes his life as well.  So now we have two brothers, sons of Judah, who were or did evil in the sight of the LORD.  Both at the cost of their lives.

So now, Judah tells Tamar to go and live in her father’s house and when his youngest son is old enough he will give her to him.  So Tamar agrees and does what is right.  Judah does what is not right, in being fearful for his youngest son’s life he refuses to fulfill his promise.  O.K. so we have the back story, and now for the qualm.

Judah’s wife dies and not long afterwards he goes to shear his sheep.  Tamar hears about it, and know and understanding the ways of men, she goes and sits as a prostitute to seduce him in his time of weakness on the way to where Judah’s sheep are.  Judah goes in to lie with her and leaves his signet (i always want to spell and pronounce it signent) ring, cords, and staff in promise for a real payment.  She leaves with the promises (items) and the promise (her real payment), and he attempts to bring her his promise (payment goat) to no avail.

Three months later, he finds out Tamar is pregnant from harlotry and wants to have her killed.  She makes it clear through his promises (items) given to her that she simply fulfilled her promise (wedding vows) to her husband as well as Judah’s promises (to give her the seed) that he had not been willing to.

At times this chapter has troubled me, and at others times it has not.  My big struggle has been that while the woman (Tamar) appeared to/was acting as a prostitute, she somehow deserved death.  Yet when he went in to a prostitute, there appeared to be nothing wrong with that.  For a long time i thought that the issue was that since he was a man it was considered acceptable due to unfair treatment towards women.  But as time has gone by i have begun to realize that it wasn’t about man vs. woman, it was about promise.

She had been married and vowed to Er.  When he died, so did her vow to him.  She could have married another man.  However, her father-in-law asked her to remain faithful and he promised to fulfill her vow.  Judah’s wife died, and his promise was fulfilled (|| with Romans 8).  He made no further promise and was not bound as such.  That was a big part of my conundrum.  It wasn’t a man vs. woman issue.  It was a promise vs. lack of promise issue… or actually in this case it was a promise vs. promise issue.

After saying all of that, i want to make it clear that just because Judah was not under any promise, does not make it all right to go in to a prostitute.  That is still a serious sin.  Just as being unmarried (unpromised) and playing the harlot would be.  That’s still a problem no matter what.  Two still become one flesh as a result, and that is not something that can be undone.

So, what are the struggles with God and the Bible that you have to work through?

John C.

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Genesis 30 – Overcome

Well, that’s three pens i have gone through now.  I ended up switching from fountain style to ball point style, and i definitely don’t like the difference in quality of the ink.  The fountain style is definitely scratchier on the paper while the ball point writes smoother, but the ink and quality of writing i get with the fountain style definitely makes it a better quality pen overall.

If faith in action is the theme of Abram/Abraham’s life, and blessing the theme of Isaac’s, then wrestling / struggle appears to be a major theme of Jacob’s life.  In chapter 30 we see Jacob’s wives, Leah and Rachael, struggling together to bear sons for Jacob.  They go so far as to follow in his grandparents footsteps and bring their maids into service to bear children for them.  Jacob gets angry at Rachael for her blaming him for her being barren, and finally God opens her womb and she is able to bear.

Meanwhile, Jacob is struggling with his uncle Laban who is expecting Jacob to work for him for basically nothing.  Since Jacob’s arrival, Laban has been blessed more and more.  He appears to be becoming wealthy at Jacob’s expense.  Meanwhile, Laban appears to continue to have an attitude that Leah, Rachael, and their children still belong to him.  With that kind of attitude it’s no wonder that Laban had struggled with being blessed before Jacob’s arrival.

By the end of the chapter progress has been made.  Leah has borne six sons and one daughter, and her maid has borne to Jacob two sons.  Meanwhile Rachael’s maid has borne Jacob two sons for her, and God has finally blessed her by opening her womb and she has borne Joseph.  All have overcome.

Meanwhile, Jacob is finally getting paid for his services to Laban.  He gets the spotted, speckled, and striped sheep and goats, and God is blessing him.  He is overcoming his Uncle Laban’s greedy behaviors.

Do we feel like we are constantly struggling with no success?  I know that i feel that way at times.  So often it seems like i am working so hard, and the success is so limited.  I know that God is taking care of me and blessing me, but it is easy to focus on the struggle and lose sight of the times and ways God has helped me to overcome.  We will have trials, troubles, and tribulations in life.  They can be walls that block our way, or just bumps in the road.  God gives us the strength to succeed and overcome.  What do you have to thank God for today?

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