Tobit 8:16b You have shown your infinite compassion and dispelled our worst fears.
I've started reading my Bible semi-regularly again. The version I am reading is The Inclusive Bible by Priests for Equality, which includes the Apocrypha. I've been posting my thoughts in my Facebook group, Feminist Bible Explorers, which you are all invited to join. I've been posting about the story of Sarah and Tobiah from Tobit lately.
I really don't understand why the Apocrypha is not included in all Bibles - there's some really great stuff. I'm reading Tobit right now and there's a really great story of a woman, Sarah, who had been married seven times and her husbands all died before they could consummate their marriage. She wanted to die. Meanwhile, Tobit wanted to die because he had become blind. He sent his son, Tobiah, out to get some money. An angel told him to go and marry Sarah. The angel describes Sarah as "wise, brave and beautiful." Then he says,
"You have nothing to fear. You and Sarah were meant to be together from the beginning of time. She will be liberated from her oppressor and the two of you will be together. You and Sarah will have many children who will give you much love. So don't be afraid."
I wonder if it's not included because it talks about liberating a woman? In any case, it gives me warm fuzzies and the emphasis on Sarah's liberation and love makes me happy. I love that during all of her hardship that the angel still describes her as wise, brave and beautiful. Our hardships do not have to define us.
Raquel called Edna and told her, “Prepare the spare room and bring Sarah there.” Edna went and prepared the room. She then led Sarah into the room and began to weep. But when she had wiped away her tears, she said, “Don’t be afraid, my daughter, I’m certain that this time the Most High God will bring you happiness to overcome sorrow. So don’t be afraid.” Then Edna left the room.
I love the humanness of this story. I can just feel all of her trepidation and fear. I feel that way too about this disability process – I feel like staying on will be limiting and have to remind myself that doing too much this Winter really hurt me and that I do still need help. It’s hard to admit that when I know I look so great on the outside to other people most of the time. I feel a lot of sorrow and defeat related to having to stay on. It’s hard to keep things in perspective – that this time a year ago, I wasn’t even working and doubted my ability to ever handle a serious job. So much has happened this year – it’s astounding – I need to catch my breath.
As I read more of the story, I am just loving all of the human emotion and love that seeps through every passage - the story reads more like a romantic love story. I love how there is just as much emphasis on Sarah's liberation as there is for Tobiah and Tobit's. As the story goes on, you read about how Tobiah's mother breaks down thinking her son has died on his journey home and then is overjoyed when he finally returns. In the moment rare for the Bible, it seems the women's pain in this story is just as valid as the men's. I will leave you with this passage that makes me happy because it reminds of God's compassion and fulfillment of promises:
Blessed are you, YHWH, with every blessing pure and true. May your people praise you and bless your Name forever. I praise you for th happiness that you have brought to me. You have shown infinite compassion and dispelled our worst fears. Praise you for looking with kindness on these two, who are the only children of their parents. Show them your mercy, O God, and keep them safe in happiness and love.