As we continue our journey through Lent, Christians throughout Columbia will be sharing their own beautifully written ‘letters from the heart.’ Each will be accompanied by corresponding relevant scripture verse(s), and linked to sources for further study. If you would like to join us on Columbia’s Lenten journey, please send us your ‘letter from the heart’ by email. Especially meaningful submissions will be printed. Let us continue our Lenten journey of repentance, meditation, and anticipation day-by-day, to its glorious culmination on Easter morning.
The statement, “Issachar is a rawboned donkey lying down between two saddlebags,” is found in the passage of Hebrew Scripture, Genesis 49:1-28, entitled “Jacob Blesses His Sons.” A number of Jacob’s sons were apportioned similarly jarring identities. The great patriarch knew the value of a blessing. He had collaborated with his mother to steal his own brother’s blessing and then closed his ears as Esau wept aloud. “He has deceived me these two times; he took my birthright and now my blessing. Haven’t you reserved any blessing for me? Do you have only one blessing, my father…bless me too, my father!”
Jacob fled the painful lament and vengeful wrath of Esau. But upon his return home, after many years, he demanded a blessing from the man/God with whom he struggled throughout the night. Thus Israel, a new name, was declared and an infant nation emerged. Jacob knew the value of a blessing, the impact of the spoken word directed toward another. So his final words to his sons, although sometimes humorous, are perplexing. Could he not extend to his sinful sons the same forgiveness he enjoyed? Could he not speak words of reconciliation and healing?
In the Gospel of Mark 7:26-30 we read that Jesus listened carefully to the spoken words of those He encountered on earth and probed more deeply for intent. He challenged the Syrophenician woman who implored Him to heal her daughter. “Is it right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs?” Thus He elicited her faith-filled reply, “Even the dogs under the table are not d4enied the children’s crumbs.”
”For such a statement,” Jesus blessed her, “you may go; the demon has left your daughter.” Jesus knew and Jacob knew the enormous power of words.
Proverbs says your words can pierce like a sword or heal with wisdom. “You never do anything right,” jabs a fragile soul. “If that’s the worst thing she does, she’ll be alright,” my mother’s words of sixty years still bring comfort today. Jesus warned that we will give account for every word we speak. I can imagine a time in eternity when me glib words will be replayed for me as CNN now does for careless politicians. God forbid!
Lent compels personal remembrance and repentance. Easter proclaims supreme forgiveness and reconciliation. Renewed, we can undertake with God’s help to practice faith and healing with every statement that we act and speak. For then, in the quiet of meditation or perhaps the clamor of the day, we too will hear the timeless words, “for such a statement, you may go.”
Trinity Care Team Leader
Columbia, South Carolina
If you enjoyed this Lenten meditation, you can find more at Sharon's Columbia Biblical Studies Examiner homepage.