“In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the first born of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering He had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. It’s desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.” – Genesis 4:3-7
This marks the first Sabbath of our Lenten journey and, therefore, it is appropriate that today’s Scripture reading is the first recorded account of worship in the Bible. We find Cain and Abel both offering sacrifices to the LORD. For some reason Abel and his sacrifice are accepted (“regarded”) by God but Cain and his sacrifice are not. We are not told the reason and there have been many theories given through the ages as to why this happened. However, to focus on that is to distract from the purpose of the story. The bottom line is that God had a reason and, when we read the rest of the story it probably had something to do with Cain’s heart. Cain was angry…real angry.
When we read this story we often focus on this anger and it’s horrible result. So, let’s talk about it. This anger that Cain is dealing with is not uncommon to us. When life seems a little unfair and we feel cheated we get mad. Maybe we feel that we have not gotten what we deserve or someone else has gotten what we deserved. “Hey, that’s not fair” are words we have shouted since we could walk and talk. This often brings up bad feelings in the best of us. An intense anger like this is often the result of a built up resentment that has been stewing for a while and has reached a boiling point.
Enter the loving God.
Remember, the Bible is written to reveal to us who God is and how He interacts with His creation. This isn’t about Cain. We “get” Cain. The question is, “How is God going to handle this?” So, let’s listen again to the heavenly Father as He speaks to this brooding big brother.
First, whatever the reason God had for not regarding his sacrifice, God had not rejected Cain. God come’s to him! This is really important for us to hear again that God seeks us even when we have made mistakes or wandered from Him. When Adam and Eve messed up God went looking for them. Cain is having a very hard time. He is an emotional powder keg…and God shows up…“What’s going on, Cain? Why are you so upset?” Now, God knows the answer to this question. Just like He knew where Adam and Eve were when He asked, “Where are you?” God is not seeking information, He is inviting us into the conversation…to talk it out…help us get through it…to make good choices.
Cain is angry but God is not. Cain is raging, but God is reaching. Cain is grousing, God is guiding. “Take a step back and take a deep breath. Make the right choice, Cain. Don’t let this get the best of you. I know you can do this. I am with you.”
Unfortunately, we know the rest of the story. Cain makes his choice and he suffers the consequences. There are a lot of people angry these days. Things are not fair and the pandemic has people on edge. The Bible tells us that when we feel that way God comes to us and encourages us to step back…take a deep breath…make the right choice. “You can do this. Don’t let it get the best of you. I am with you.”