Genesis 4: Healing From Cain Syndrome

It was not a good day for the children of Adam and Eve. Cain and Abel thought they were doing the right thing in life. But things didn’t go as expected. Frustration lead to anger. Anger lead to fear. Fear lead to murder. The endless moments of backsliding were devastating for Cain.

Is there anyone who does not feel frustrated and upset when things do not work out as planned? It is easy to blame failure on someone else when things do not go our way. We might say someone stood in our way, or there were obstacles beyond our control.  Frustration and anger that are produced as a result of failure are hard to deal with.

Over the years I have found that many of us fall into this trap and  don’t know how to deal with our own failure. Failure doesn’t mean it is not possible for us to succeed or change. Just because the first or second attempt at a task does not go as planned, does not mean what happens in life is cursed or completely lost. Intentions can be good. But it does not mean what we do with the best of all intentions will play out well in the end.

Haven’t you heard that ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions?’ This is the story of Chapter 4 of Genesis. Cain and Abel, both wanted to do the right thing. Cain and Abel wanted to please God. However, they found out quickly that pleasing God was not a one-time act. It was a series of things. It was daily living and not just an offering and a prayer.

The deeper question for us is should we be concerned about pleasing God? Or should we just focus on living life to its fullest as it comes? Living a life filled with deceit, untruthfulness, fear, jealousy, and anger will go beyond just one or two events or situations in our lives. Those negative tendencies will set the tone for everything we do.  Sin is lurking at our door when these vices move just under the surface of our being.

The scriptures point to our own temptation for retaliation against another when faced with opposition, disagreement or discomfort. Personal revenge is quick and easy but forgiveness goes deeper and further. In Matthew 18: 21-22, Jesus talks to Peter about the need to forgive farther and deeper rather than holding on to vengeance and anger.

Maybe the whole story is about our willingness to forgive ourselves in the first place, to accept that we can fail and we might not do things right all the time. It is alright not to be perfect in everything we do as long as we try to do our best. Other people’s best may not be what we should aspire for but rather our best. Our best should be our only concern.

Our individual best is what God wants from us. Because we can only do what we are capable of doing. We are on a slippery slope the moment we compare what we can do with another’s best. That was the tragedy of Cain. He could not stop comparing himself to his brother.

If only you can accept who you are, you will find every reason to do what God wants you to do. Figuring out God’s will goes hand in hand with recognizing who you truly are. Because what is expected of you is what you already are capable of. Everything else you feel is called Cain Syndrome.

God’s Solution #4

So what solution did God come up with to get us out of the quagmire of self-doubt? Forgive yourself!  Then you can do what God wants you to do. Do not compare yourself to others and lose no sleep over what you can not do because that’s not what God expects of you. What is expected of you is simply what is already within you. Paul had to remind the people of Corinth “Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is within you?” (2 Corinthians 13: 5). If you think you can’t forgive yourself for being human and that your life is a failure, remember what God says, “My grace is sufficient for you.”  This is just the beginning of divine grace showing you a better way.

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