This post is part of a reflective Lenten series, originally published as Facebook posts on my personal account.
Lenten practice, day #10
Reference: Tobit 10:1-14
Perhaps what sticks out most to me about today’s reading is kind of…boring. I found it ironic (and a bit confusing) that Raguel tries to keep Tobiah at his place. Sure, I could understand how he wouldn’t want to see his daughter go off to live with her husband no matter what (besides, she’s had 7 husbands and Raguel’s never had to do this), but he also seems like a more reasonable guy than this. It strikes me as out of character that he would press and press the couple to stay, especially given Tobit’s blindness. Raguel would be well aware that Tobiah plays a critical part in the care for his family in ancient Jewish culture—Tobiah’s absence would likely kill his mother once Tobit passed.
As the chapter lists the incredible wealth that Tobiah is loading up to bring home, I couldn’t help but smile at how surprised Tobit’s going to be. He sends his son out to retrieve “a great sum” of money, all the while complaining about their poverty, then that son returns with not only the money, but half of Raguel’s possessions, plus the rest of his property once he passes! For someone who just begged God to take his life, he’s going to be floored when he sees how much God blesses him!
The same is certainly true for our lives, and I don’t mean strictly in material wealth as is the case in Tobit’s story. Sometimes it really, really is difficult to see how blessed we are, especially when we don’t see any blessings on the horizon. At the beginning of the chapter, Tobit and Anna experience this—Tobit freaking out that Tobiah is gone in private yet insisting on his survival in front of a wailing, grieving Anna. Anna stops eating and spends every day watching the road Tobiah and Raphael left from, hoping earnestly that they will return, then spending the night in uncontrollable wailing when he fails to arrive.
Yet all the while, from our “God’s-eye view,” we see that not only is their only son returning, and not only is he returning with the money, and not only is he returning with the money and a new wife, but he is returning with the money and his beloved wife and an inheritance that will ensure their future for the rest of their lives. How God blesses those who call on him!
Of course, in our own lives we don’t have that God’s-eye view. We don’t know when things are going to suddenly take a turn for the worse, and we don’t know how far off the abundant blessings are. But Scripture assures us that even if they’re a ways off—they’re there. We might not know it, but they’re coming. This beginning part is especially relevant for me today as I struggle with some pretty intense anxiety. It’s comforting to hear that blessings are on their way and the only thing to do in the meantime is be patient and muster up as much trust as possible. There’s a reason similar stories are repeated time and time again throughout the Bible—God wants us to know it’s true, trust it, and remember it.