Rain on a Barren Land (Genesis 25-28, Psalm 8)
This week was kind of crazy for our family. We took our adopted son to the gastroenterologist and learned a little bit more about his past as well as some medical needs he may be facing in the future. M was born with gastroschisis, a condition in which the intestines were present outside of the body. I won’t expand more on that here, but I will say that it’s been sort of an emotional week with a few sweet discoveries and also some hard possibilities.
If you’re keeping up with our reading, yesterday we read Genesis 25-28 and Psalm 8. Briefly, I want to make sure you think about the theme of barrenness that began with Sarah. We find out that Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, is barren in Genesis 25, and as God heals her from this, she conceives twins who struggle hard in the womb—Jacob and Esau. Later, we will read about the physical barrenness of Jacob’s loved wife Rachel and the barrenness of affection his wife Leah faces.
Isaac also faces a famine which drives him back to Abimelech (remember the second king Abraham who took Sarah because Abraham claimed she was his sister?) Isaac makes the same mistake, and it’s a king of the Philistines—not the chosen people of God—who makes the moral call here.
Then we see the impulsiveness of Esau, the duplicity of Rebekah and Jacob, the conflict that rises among broken people trying to figure out the intersection between the blessings of God and the activity of men. It’s kind of a mess—barren people in barren lands making mistakes.
By the time I got to the Psalm 8 section of the reading, I was moved by these lines, “What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet...”
This psalm rings a lot truer to my own experience than some of the psalms that claim a human righteousness that deserves rescue. I can’t identify with feeling like i deserve God’s help. I know how messed up I am and how barren my moral ability actually is.
But when I read David’s stunned gratitude that God would bother with us at all, I feel some of his same questions fall naturally upon my soul. Who are we that you would trust us like you do?
His love is extravagant favor. Rain on a barren land. A child in a barren womb.