Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏹️

Scenes from the Life of Cain, 15th century relief carving

And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
Genesis 4:3-5

Life isn't fair. There is no explanation here of why Abel's offering was accepted and Cain's rejected. Cain was naturally hurt, as would be most of us in a similar situation. The thousands of analyses attempting to understand why Cain's offering was rejected rather miss the point of this story. The story is not about the offering, and whether—or why—it had worth or not. The story is about Cain's response to the rejection.

Frequently we find we are powerless about what happens to us. We make plans, we have expectations, even entitlements, and then we find our plans fail, people let us down, we don't get what (we think) we deserve. We get hurt.

But we don't have to repeat Cain's story. When things go wrong, as they frequently do, small, personal disappointments, or huge, world-shattering ones, we can rail and rage, look for scapegoats, accuse, blame, take revenge, and cry in despair: How could God let this happen? But God is not in the destruction. God is in the recovery. Our power lies in our response to the disappointment, not in the disappointment itself. Cain conflated the two. We don't have to. We get to learn from his mistake.