It was under Ahab's rule that Hiel of Bethel refortified Jericho, but at a terrible cost: He ritually sacrificed his firstborn son Abiram at the laying of the foundation, and his youngest son Segub at the setting up of the gates. This is exactly what Joshua son of Nun said would happen. 1 Kings 16:34 (MSG)
"If there is any purpose or value in this whole thing, it's completely lost on me," my wife said to me in the car yesterday. Behind her dark sunglasses, I knew her eyes were filled with tears. I understood. I feel the same confusion. Her statement echoed in my spirit the rest of the day and I've been chewing on it.
The purpose and value of difficult circumstances do not usually show themselves in the moment because they are not momentary in nature. We call them "lessons learned in time" because, for us, time is a required ingredient. We have a wonderful, state-of-the-art breadmaker in our kitchen. As good as it is, it still takes 3-4 hours to bake a loaf of bread. It can't speed up the time necessary for the yeast to perform its chemical reactions and make the dough rise.
God has all sorts of time because, unlike me, he exists outside of time's boundaries. It's likely that Hiel of Bethel and the people gathered at the dedication ceremonies at Jericho had no idea that the terrible sacrifice of his own sons had been spoken of 600 years earlier by Joshua. That's like Cristopher Columbus talking about the recent earthquake in Haiti. It seems an eternity to us, but not to God. He exists concurrently in both moments.
The difficult stretch of the journey I'm experiencing today is frustrating, agonizing, and confusing. I don't get it in the moment. I can only trust that someday I, or my children, or my grandchildren, or my great grandchildren will be on another difficult stretch and I will look back in time to find that the lessons learned through this time will profit me for that time.
Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and solidstate76