Ephraim’s sons Ezer and Elead were killed trying to steal livestock from the local farmers near Gath.
1 Chronicles 7:21 NLT
Every once in awhile someone sends me an e-mail forward that has pictures of “typical” shoppers of a certain not-to-be-named supercenter. It’s intent is comedy but I open the email with a slight bit of fear – there is always a very good chance that I will be one of the unfortunate subjects in these photos. As much as I can see the humor in e-mails like this, it also reveals a much less humorous situation. I have begun to separate problems into two categories: Ugly & Pretty.
Ugly problems are situations that are more than just a little awkward. People in the middle of an ugly crisis tend to become isolated or gossiped about but rarely helped. Any time I think to myself “just knowing about this problem makes me feel messy” that is a good indication I have stumbled upon an ugly problem. These are the ones that get pushed to the bottom of my priority list. They offer little to no warm, fuzzy acknowledgement. These are the problems that are easier to make a snide joke about rather than try to help. They incur the wrath of judgment faster than my 10 year old son’s “I love pink” phase did.
Pretty problems are the polar opposite. Pretty problems rarely receive the finger of blame pointed at them. They are branded by society as fashionable and “A good cause.” It is easy to post on social media sites about contributing to them. These are the unfortunate circumstances that we wouldn’t ever crack jokes about because we all agree on the gravity of the situation.
But aren’t both – ugly AND pretty – problems? Why am I putting together meals for the family whose mother was just diagnosed with cancer but I’m ignoring the rehabilitated registered ex sex-offender living in my area?
In 1 Chronicles chapter seven, I was once again pleasantly surprised at what circumstances God chose to document in His Holy Book. Among the genealogies is the record of Ephraim. Ephraim had two sons and a problem.
Ephraim’s sons Ezer and Elead were killed trying to steal livestock from the local famers near Gath. Their father, Ephraim, mourned for them for a long time, and his relatives came to comfort him. Afterward Ephraim slept with his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. Ephraim named him Beriah because of the tragedy his family had suffered. (1 Chronicles 7:21b-23 NLT)
His two sons are eternally recorded in the Bible as being killed while trying to steal livestock! That is not the prettiest of situations. There is a good chance a lot of his neighbors and friends may have thought to themselves that these boys deserved to die for their theft. Some may have avoided Ephraim all together because of the awkwardness of his problem – what do you say to a guy that just lost both his sons mid-criminal activity. Ephraim and his wife were obviously heartbroken – they named their next son Beriah, which sounds like a Hebrew term meaning “tragedy” or “misfortune.”
Did God condone theft? No. He hates the SIN, yet loves the SINNER. Just as God points out in 1 Chronicles 7:22 that “his relatives came to comfort him” so should I offer comfort to those in my life with problems – all problems. That is BEAUTIFUL to God.
Challenge: Any time I catch myself in judgment of another’s situation, I will stop myself. Instead, I will take the situation to God and ask Him to open my eyes to ways I can help.
Dear Lord, thank you for all the times you have looked at my awkward, ugly sin and loved me just the same. Guide me to imitate this kind of love towards all those in my life. Help us all to love the Beriah in each other’s life without restriction or distain but with the kind of selflessness your own Son extended us. Amen.