Weekly Feature



2017-11-22 / Lifestyles

CLERGY COLUMN

Give thanks despite suffering
REV. STEVE BIEGNER
Clarence Fire Chaplain

One highlight of my trip to Israel this past summer was seeing the remains of the gate of the ancient city of Laish, which dates all the way back to the time of Abram. For me, seeing an actual gate that Abram no doubt walked through was a powerful reminder of how God is both the source of our blessings and our faithful deliverer.

Genesis 14 recounts how four invading kings of Mesopotamia, which ruled the Canaanite region at the time, were met by a rebellious coalition of five kings of cities around the Dead Sea.

Yakhdun-Lim, ruler of the Mesopotamian city of Mari, likewise records a military campaign in the region about 4,000 years ago. While ruins of ancient cities have been found around the southern end of the Dead Sea, archaeologists haven’t determined if any of them are Sodom or Gomorrah.

Abram’s nephew, Lot, had chosen to live in one of these rebelling cities: Sodom. When the Mesopotamian kings captured Sodom, Lot and his family were taken captive. Lot and his family and all their possessions were carried off by these marauding invaders. When someone escaped and told Abram, Abram gathered 318 of his own men, rallied his allies and pursued. Genesis recounts how Abram’s group caught up to the Mesopotamians near the northern city of Laish. Dividing his forces and attacking at night, Abram and his servants routed the Mesopotamians and chased them back into Syria.

Thus, after Lot suffered this great defeat, God did not abandon him. Through Abram’s efforts, God rescued Lot and his family and even the five rebellious, non-believing kings, together with their possessions. This was far more than Lot could have hoped for.

Similarly today, the people of the Earth are receiving many blessings from God because of those who are faithful to Him. We should be encouraged and comforted when we see God’s blessings to all. It proves that God’s people, though perhaps few in number, are present. For their sake, God shows undeserved kindness upon everyone. Those who know the source of their blessings give Him thanks.

Yet there are those who believe they themselves are responsible for all the blessings they receive. In the end, they will receive their “just desserts” while God’s people remain securely in His care.

And we are reminded that God’s people will endure suffering in this world. Just as Lot and his family were captured with the rest of the city of Sodom, the lives of Christians today are filled with problems, just like anyone else. Yet God uses these problems to help believers become closer to Him.

Whenever it seems like your enemies surround you or you feel your faith in Christ is weak, then give thanks and call on the name of the Lord, Who gives you the victory through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

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