Sunday, January 10, 2010

Reflections on Tobit

I love the Book of Tobit. It is one I read and re-read over the years.

If you also love this book, then skip my little summary here. If you haven't read this book, I'll provide a little synopsis:

Tobit is a good and kind man. He is married to Anna and he has one son, Tobiah. Tobit is a righteous man, who does what is right without fail and risks his life over and over to do good. Because of his unwavering goodness and faithfulness to God, he has lost everything but his wife and son - he was a prosperous man who has now had everything taken from him by evil leaders as punishment for his tenacity in the serving the Will of God. As the Book opens, Tobit is 62 years old, living in poverty with his wife and only child. He has been struck blind and has just had, basically, the most foul run of luck one can imagine.

The story is also Sarah's story. Sarah is the only daughter of one of Tobit's kinsmen. She is plagued by the demon Asmodeus. She has been married seven times and seven times Asmodeus has killed her husband on their wedding night [as the new husband first "approached her for intercourse"]. [How's THAT for giving a woman a complex? ;) ]

So, the Book of Tobit opens with "Tobit's Prayer for Death" and "Sarah's Prayer for Death" in Chapter 3 - both good, upstanding people who have had really horrible things happen and who are in despair, begging God to let them die.

Instead of letting them both Die, God sends the Archangel Raphael to help them.
[How I love those Archangels! It is no accident that my son is named for one of them!]

Thus follows an excellent story - one in which Raphael comes in disguise to go with Tobiah [the son] to retrieve some money his father left with a relative some distance away. In the course of their adventures, Raphael procures Sarah to become Tobiah's wife [to the great advantage of both families]. Raphael helps Tobiah and Sarah expel the demon Asmodeus and Raphael pursues Asmodeus into the desert and "binds him hand and foot". Leaving Tobiah and Sarah to, presumably, enjoy a very nice wedding night [which they begin with a beautiful prayer to God]. Then Raphael leaves Tobiah with his new in-laws so they can celebrate a 14 day wedding feast while Raphael completes the journey to retrieve the money from Tobit's kinsman. Which he does successfully.

They all return home - Tobiah much wealthier and with a beautiful, beloved new wife. Upon their return, Raphael tells Tobiah how to cure his father's blindness, which Tobiah accomplishes.

Tobiah then offers Raphael half of everything he has gained as payment and in thanks for his help. Raphael refuses, and then reveals who he really is and why God sent him. He departs, instructing Tobiah to Praise God in Everything and to always give Glory to God. [which Tobiah takes to heart!]

The book of Tobit ends much later - Tobit has lived to the happy old age of 112, a wealthy and comfortable old age. He has lived many happy years, watching his son and Sarah live a wonderful life blessed with many children. The final chapter brings us to Tobit's death bed, peacefully surrounded by Tobiah and his seven sons....

It is a beautiful story. I find it a very hopeful story. A reassurance that even though we may face trials in life, trials that may seem never ending and insurmountable at times, God still has good things planned for us. God does not Foresake us, He does not forget us or abandon us.

At the very moment Tobit and Sarah were praying for death, God was sending Raphael to save them.

I look forward to seeing what God has in store for me and my children.

A few months back, I WAS praying for death. I would wake up and think "Maybe a truck will hit me today"... my life felt completely hopeless, I felt completely abandoned by God.

I could not, at that time, imagine that, even this soon afterwards, I would be happy. That my life would be relatively peaceful. That I would find great joy in being able to raise my children without the constant stress and darkness that came from living with my husband. That I would look forward to waking up every day with excitement and joy.

I do, at times, feel plagued by my own personal demon. I do wonder if I don't suffer from "Demonic Oppression" [not the same as "Possession" - Oppression is when you have a demon that basically just follows you around messing with your life - like Asmodeus killing off all of Sarah's husbands just because he could.]

But I feel hopeful that if that IS the case [or even if I'm just extraordinarily unlucky], God will deliver me from this. God has good things planned.

Maybe God will even send Raphael to look after me and my children. ;)

For now, my prayer for my children and I is that God would protect us and provide for us. I pray that God takes us under His wing and protects us from certain persons who seem bent upon our absolute destruction. That He would protect us from extreme poverty and that He would make a way for me to provide for my children.

And I pray that God will grant me a peaceful death, surrounded by my children and grandchildren, ready to go home to Him after a lifetime well lived in His Service. [That "well lived in His Service" part is up to me of course - I'm working on it!!!]

God Bless You!

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