Can a Grain of Sugar Kill You?
But when Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found there a well of spring water, the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen, saying, “The water is ours.” Genesis 26:19-20
When my son ran cross-country in high school, he and his team had a perpetual debate that lasted several seasons. Could a grain of sugar kill you? It was ridiculous, but they used the ridiculous to occupy their minds on long training runs. Apparently, opinions supporting both sides were quite passionate and, to this day, my son will fervently defend his view on the subject.
It was an absurd debate, which they fully understood. I, however, have allowed myself to be drawn into legitimate conflict for things that are equally absurd. For instance, a couple of months ago one of my clinics enacted a schedule change which was obviously a terrible idea. This is never going to work. So, on that Monday morning, I sent off an email, predicting chaos by the end of that day. I said it nicely, but my displeasure wasn’t subtle. You know what happened by 5:00PM that day? Absolutely nothing. The new schedule worked out just fine. Honestly, I now prefer it this way. If I’d have just relaxed and given it a day, I could have avoided a conflict that worked itself out without my intervention.
Like most of us, I’m a conflict avoider – most of the time. Sometimes though, I must have my say. And what is usually at stake when I feel compelled to get involved? I tell myself there’s a right and wrong way to do things, and that I’m just standing up for what’s right, but often it’s simply my ego and my need to do things my way. I don’t want to be a pushover.
Today’s passage provides an example of someone who may have appeared passive, but who was simply trusting God to handle his conflicts. In the story, Isaac and his people settled in the Valley of Gerar where they dug wells. Once they struck water though, the local herdsman showed up and claimed rights to that water. Isaac didn’t fight. He simply moved on and dug another well . . . and the same thing happened. Eventually, Isaac found a place where he and his people could live in peace. He avoided conflict, moved on, and trusted God to take care of his needs.
I could learn from Isaac’s example. When I’m tempted to defend myself, I must ask myself why. Am I truly defending a righteous cause? What does God want me to do here? God rarely asks me to send off an angry email. Often, I simply need to realize that I don’t need to join every conflict and I don’t always need to be right. God will provide.