“You are not a victim. No matter what you have been through, you’re still here. You may have been challenged, hurt, betrayed, beaten, and discouraged, but nothing has defeated you. You are still here! You have been delayed but not denied. You are not a victim, you are a victor. You have a history of victory.” ~Steve Maraboli
I never found reading the genealogy of Jesus meaningful until now. As many of you already know, I’m reading though the Bible in one year, but the plan I’m on has me going back and forth from the Old Testament into the New Testament. Having just come from Genesis, I found the genealogy, at the start of Matthew, intriguing. There are obvious characters, like Abraham and Isaac, while others I didn’t expect, like why is Judah listed instead of Joseph?
Finding Tamar in the mix, however, is the biggest surprise and greatest thrill. It was if God used sin (prostitution and trickery) to bring about the genealogy of the One who would save us from those sins.
If you don’t know the story of Tamar, her drama is played out in Genesis 38. I would highly suggest reading this chapter! But if you’re on the run and need a quick summary, here you go: Tamar is married (at puberty, which was normal), to Judah’s oldest son; a mean dude who dies before she can conceive him a son (that was the woman’s job in those days. That was her worth. To bear sons). We can make an assumption, based on the culture, that she is now beaten, worked like a mule, and blamed for not producing any offspring. Where the culture gets more weird for our modern mind, is that Judah now marries her off with his second born son. That was the tradition. If the older dies, the wife is now given to the next brother in line. To make matters worse, this brother and second husband likes the sex, but doesn’t want to impregnate Tamar, spilling his semen out whenever they are together.
How utterly degrading for Tamar! She not only has no choice in marriage, but this act seems worse than prostitution. She was used for sex, plain and simple. Then that brother dies. Now Judah is spooked, so instead of giving her to the next brother in line, he sends her back to her father’s house. Tamar is childless, a widow twice over, and cannot be married into another clan (more tradition). She is now just a drain on her father’s resources, with no future.
If anyone has an excuse to play the victim role, it’s Tamar.
Her choice could have understandably been to give up and live out the rest of her life in quiet misery, yet she chooses something outrageously risky. She dresses like a shrine prostitute, gets herself in front of Judah (her father-in-law), who impregnates her without knowing who she is. Her act is so shrewd and calculated that she even convinces Judah to leave his passport and driver’s license behind (modern version of his seal & staff). Once she’s found out (after hiding her pregnancy for a long time), the depths of hypocrisy is revealed. Judah wants her burned to death, even though it was okay for him to take a prostitute. It was only through her ability to prove him the father by handing over his identification, that saved her life.
Have you been used by someone who was supposed to protect you?
Have you been misused in a relationship?
Have you had your hopes crushed? Been rejected?
We are all victims to some degree. Tamar IS a victim in this story. She just refuses to act like one! Sure, resorting to prostitution is never the best choice, but given the circumstances, Tamar doesn’t wait around for someone else to save her. She takes action. She makes a brave decision that goes against all tradition and cultural norm.
Here’s what kind of gets my feathers ruffled. In modern day America, as women, we are no where close to the oppression Tamar faced, yet many choose victimized entrapment, even though we have the freedom and opportunities to write a different story! Don’t mind me while I raise my voice a bit…do NOT let your history interfere with your destiny! Today is a new day, and you have the chance to choose! Please boldly embrace this gift, the truth of your greatness through Jesus Christ, and hurl the victim mentality through the roof.
Thank you, Tamar, for your boldness, shrewdness, and understanding that God made you for better things than “widow”, “childless”, “rejected”, “worthless.” Thank you for refusing to choose “victim.”
Photo credit: Flickr (Creative Commons)
Kim’s signature closing:
Welcome new readers, and those well loved! My blogs are focused on authentic Christianity and real life decisions. History proves that my readers interact most comfortably through an email exchange, rather than a public comment. You are always welcome to find me at email@example.com. I welcome your questions or comments and will do my best to respond in a timely manner.
My deepest desire is for you to know Jesus real. He is not just a positive thought, a model to follow, or a comfortable space to hear love. He is life. Adventure. He can be the very air you breathe with just one decision. I never knew Him until I ended up sitting on a dirty field in India. He met me there, and that gripping tale of redemption is found in my life’s work: The Chance to Choose: Become Who You Were Meant to Be One Choice At a Time. I’d love all my reader’s to know the story. It is there where you’ll understand me, and the One I serve, best. Click on printed/signed copy, or Kindle version (also available on Nook and Apple iBook) to purchase, and if you need more, check out the book trailer below: