This post is part of a reflective Lenten series, originally published as Facebook posts on my personal account
Lenten practice, day #3.
Reference: Tobit 3:1-17
I’d like to imagine that the people who are following these posts are reading Tobit along with me (like, actually reading the chapter before reading these reflections), but I’m aware that is not realistic. So allow me to quickly summarize the chapter, because I’m going to ignore most of it:
After the fight with his wife (over a goat, of all things), Tobit cries out in anguish for death. The pain of being unable to provide for his family, the faithlessness of his tribe, and the insults he endures from others become too much for him.
At the exact same moment in a place nearby (called Media), young Sarah cries out a similar pray for death. She had just experienced the death of her seventh husband. (SEVENTH. Count ’em. SEVEN. LIKE, HOLY CRAP.) Basically, Asmodeus (a demon whose name means “The Destroyer”) killed each of her husbands after they were married to Sarah but before they consummated their vows. If that doesn’t make Sarah look bad, I don’t know what does. Seven guys in a row go in to have sex with this girl, and they come out dead. For a whole lot of obvious reasons (plus other cultural reasons), this was mortifying for Sarah. She goes to her room, contemplates hanging herself, but decides to beg God for death instead.
Okay now we’re caught up to my favorite part. I love it so much, I’m just going to put it here:
“-An Answer to Prayer-
At that very time, the prayer of these two suppliants was heard in the glorious presence of Almighty God. So Raphael was sent to heal them both: to remove the cataracts from Tobit’s eyes, so that he might again see God’s sunlight; and to marry Raguel’s daughter Sarah to Tobit’s son Tobiah, and then drive the wicked demon Asmodeus from her. For Tobiah had the right to claim her before any other who might wish to marry her [he was the next in the tribal line].
In the very moment that Tobit returned from the courtyard to his house, Raguel’s daughter Sarah came downstairs from her room.” (Tobit: 3:16-17)
DO YOU SEE HOW BEAUTIFUL THAT IS. GAAAAAAAAAHHH I CAN HARDLY HANDLE IT. SERIOUS BIBLE FANGIRLING HAPPENING RIGHT NOW.
Alright, let’s unpack it:
(There are a lot of ways this reflection can go but since I have long been fascinated by angels and the interactions of heavenly beings, we’re gonna focus on that.)
The chapter states that the prayer of each individual was heard “in the glorious presence of Almighty God.” Based on this and a lot of other input, it seems that in heaven there are several archangels who “read” prayers before God (much like a messenger before the royal throne).
These specific prayers are presented simultaneously by Raphael before a God who has been waiting patiently for his precious children to turn to him. He immediately sends Raphael on an adventure to Earth to execute a divine plan–one that will not only answer the prayers of each child, but bring them together as father-in-law and daughter-in-law in more joy than each had ever experienced before.
God. Is. Extravagant. He could easily have just snapped his fingers and taken away Tobit’s blindness and Sarah’s demon. Simple solution. But, dear readers, our God is not simple. His is an extravagance beyond our imaginations. Instead of exercising his heavenly powers, he sets into action a plan that: 1) allows Tobit and his family to meet an angel face-to-face; 2) allows for Tobiah to go traveling with Raphael and inadvertently meet his future wife; 3) allows Tobiah to pursue and win Sarah’s heart, to treat her like a queen, to aid Raphael in saving her, to unite with her mentally, spiritually and physically; 4) for Sarah to be redeemed from her fears and fall deeply in love with a young, Godly man; 5) for Tobiah to assist in healing his father; and 6) for Tobit to not only regain his sight and livelihood, but also a DAUGHTER all at once. How deeply these lives are touched by a God who will go to extravagant lengths to draw his beloved close to him!
Perhaps what is most fascinating about this passage is that the reader is privileged with a sort of “God’s-eye” view of the story–we are able to know God’s incredible plan for his beloved, and we are able to see how totally oblivious they are to it.
How often are we equally oblivious? We get so caught up in trying to have it our way–trying to know it all–when God is right there, patiently waiting to absolutely blow our freaking minds with love and ingenuity and joy. How often do we lose hope simply because we fail to unite our short sight with the Heavenly Vision that can see far beyond our human limitations? If only we knew the plans he has for us–we would never worry!
Prayer on my heart after reading this: God, turn me towards you. Make me focus always on you that my simple, humanly vision may be joined to your all-encompassing sight. Teach me to wait in trusting hope for those plans which I must not yet see, and to rejoice endlessly at the beautiful future which I know awaits me. In this way, may your name be ever praised and may all men know your glory.
Interesting note: God can hear prayers all at one time. In other words, God is like Data, for those of you who understand that reference. (Not to mention Heaven being outside of time, but that’s a topic for a different day.)
By the way, Raphael, whose name means “God heals” is sent to wage spiritual battle against “The Destroyer.” THIS IS SO COOL.
Thoughts? What did you get out of the chapter/the bit I quoted? There are a million ways to go with this reading.