Trading Our Blessings for Bowls of Soup

I'm learning what it means to trade our blessings for bowls of soup

Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears. – Hebrews 12:16-17

For years this whole story of Esau losing his blessing over a bowl of soup confused me to no end, until one day I got it.

To paraphrase, it goes like this: Esau and Jacob were brothers. This is real life, so all of this is true. Esau was the hairy manly one, who liked to spend his days hunting, and Jacob was the quieter one, who hung around the house with his mom and liked to cook. Even in historic days, this kind of stuff apparently happened, so I guess Solomon wasn’t lying centuries later when he said there’s nothing new under the sun. Some of us like our sports, some of us like our books (and maybe some of us like both?).

Anyway, back to the point. Esau came home one day from a long hunting trip, and he was starving. He was so hungry that he literally felt like he was dying from starvation, so he begged his brother Jacob for some soup. Jacob just happened to be whipping up a big pot of soup at that very moment, so he decided to take advantage of the opportunity, and proposed a deal. He told Esau he’d give him a bowl of soup, if Esau gave him his rights as firstborn son in return.

Esau didn’t think twice. He was starving. He wanted soup soooo bad. And what did his rights as firstborn son even matter in that moment? So he made the deal, ate the soup, and went on his way. This was the start of a long rivalry between the two.

Of course, way down the road Esau welcomes his brother back home, the two make up, and God helps Jacob overcome his bad habit of tricking others out of things. But this part of their story seems kind of harsh, doesn’t it? Losing a birthright (or blessings as first born son) just for being starving and needing a bowl of soup? As someone who hates to be starving, I can totally relate.

But then God gently revealed it to me. How often do I trade my blessing for a bowl of soup?

All the time.

I do it every time I trade God’s best for what sounds good in the moment. Every time I trade time with Him and filling up on His word for another stupid TV show or a few more minutes on Pinterest.

And I don’t just do it, I feel it. There is nothing life giving about an episode of Game of Thrones at bedtime, no matter how hard it is to turn away when the hubster is watching it and I all of a sudden want to know the answers to a million questions that would make much more sense if I had just watched the whole season. (No thanks. It gives me nightmares.)

There’s nothing life giving about pinning dozens of images of things I need or want or like to look at if it’s keeping me up way past my bedtime or keeping me away from the quiet time my soul needs. No matter how “good” those things are.

But there is life in Him. And I know it, because I feel it every time I sit at God’s feet, curl up in His presence, read His Word and tell Him about my day. Does it sound crazy? Try it out. For real, with Him and with a heart that really wants to know.

There is nothing like it, and when we draw close to God, He draws close to us. He fills us with His light and love, and He alone is life, and He alone can fill us up and make us feel full. I’m talking about spiritual hunger of course, but there’s an interesting parallel that God pointed out to me between this kind of starvation and Esau’s starvation that led him to give up his blessing.

When we’re hungry, we’re prone to doing all sorts of things that we might later regret, whether it’s eating something that’s not good for us to snapping at the people we love. I mean… I’m going out on a limb here, it’s not like I’ve ever been cranky with the ones I love. Ha.

The same goes, though, for spiritual hunger. When we’re starved of our time with Him, whether by choice or by busyness or just because we don’t know, we’re prone to do all sorts of things we’ll later regret. We’re prone to trade all sorts of blessings for things that won’t last more than a moment and don’t carry with them the promise of life. Or in my case, I’m prone to laying wide awake until the wee hours of dawn with all sorts of stress and or shoes or men with swords running through my head. And in doing that, we miss out on the greatest gift of all: the peace that comes from knowing our Savior and the rest that comes from living in Him.

Of course as far as the issue of repentance goes, it might have been too late for Esau when he wanted his birthright back, but it’s never too late for us. We get the chance a million times a day and then some. We live in perpetual grace full of perpetual second chances, perpetual acceptance by our Father, and perpetual love. Amen. 

For out of His fullness (abundance) we have all received [all had a share and we were all supplied with] one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing and even favor upon favor and gift [heaped] upon gift. – John 1:16 (AMP)

As always, give us your thoughts. The conversation is our favorite part!

Soup photo by Max Straeten from morguefile. Text added by Stephanie Oh.

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14 comments

  1. That is so what I have been struggling with the past week or so. When I have a set back physically and find myself laid up in bed, the Internet is my greatest distraction. I don’t feel like reading and I feel my prayers are just hitting the ceiling. I know that thats’s exactly what I need to be doing because I know half the reason I don’t feel like doing it is because despair is starting to grip me. I feel hopeless and then I slowly fill myself with things (escape into the cyber world) instead of immersing myself in Him to allow Him to use the setback to grow me. Before I know it I only have a appetite for mindlessly being in the Internet or watching tv till bed. The more I feed that the harder to break it. At the same time I’m thirsting for God. I’m thirsting for Him to change me, to give purpose to my sufferings, yet I’m not spending the time to allow Him to. Viscious cycle and I know I’m missing His blessings and all He wants to show me and do. So that’s where I’m at. Fighting to put the word first in my life. And not give into the lie of the enemy that other things will satisfy me or comfort me. It is so easy to let the things of this world pacify me. In the end though I lose hope, purpose, and meaning, and find myself desperate for what truly matters. The enemy is very sneaky and so subtle at the ways he distracts us and pulls us from the blessings.

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    1. Krystle, you just described a very slow downward spiral I was in for like 18 months, so I totally know what you mean. It sneaks up on us for sure, and it’s such a hard cycle to break. Especially because numbing reality with a good detective show is sooo tempting for me sometimes! The tipping point for me was realizing I’d become almost completely hopeless, and it was affecting every area of my life. I’m still working toward getting back to the amount of quiet time / reflection / Bible study that I personally need but even the small steps feel good. Hang in there! Awareness is our first step. At least I like to think so. 😉

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    2. Krystle, I’m right there with you on this one! Just want you to know that you’re not alone. Chronic illness really make this whole thing extra challenging and I find myself in the same place as you right now.

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    3. Krystle, I’m sorry to hear about your current situation. If you have the chance, check out my story and my journey with God at sweetlybrokengirl.blogspot.com. I, too, understand losing my hope and faith and feeling like my prayers were bouncing off the ceiling. But as I look back now, I wouldn’t trade the pain and struggle for anything, because I learned so much through it. But it was painful for quite a while before it got better. But hang in there. God has not abandoned you. And it will get better if you are willing to learn and grow through the pain. I’m saying a prayer for you. Take care and God bless. – Heather

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  2. This really strikes a chord in me Kim. So often I trade the blessings for the moment of mindless tv or Internet. Thanks for the powerful reminder. Hugs

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    1. You and me both, Renee! I think we share a love of Castle and a few other shows. 😉 I’m working on fitting them in when I can but saying no when it’s going to come between me and my quiet time or a good night’s sleep. Hope you had a beautiful weekend! Hugs back to you!

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  3. Love it as usual girls! I was thinking about this subject last night as I skipped reading the Bible to watch my 5th episode in a row of 24….It is so awesome how God gives us what we need when we need it!! Keep up the great work!

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    1. Don’t even get me started…. 24 is sooo hard to turn off, especially when you have the DVD! My new temptation is “Motive” on ABC. I know I’m usually going to watch one show a night, so my new thing is making sure I turn that show on before 9:30 PM. If not, I have to watch it the next night on Hulu. So far it’s helping. Thanks for the comment! 🙂

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  4. YES!
    One of the things I say all the time is: “the worst enemy of God’s best is good.”
    It’s so easy for me to look at things and see the good in them, especially with the baptized imagination God has blessed me with, but I don’t always see that they aren’t the best. I wonder if looking on the bright side can actually be a factor in this sometimes. Something to ponder.

    Also, there are people who like sports and books. I am one of them 🙂

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    1. Yes, that’s a great saying. I’m the queen of settling for good instead of great! Your comment about looking on the bright side reminds me of something Krystle said in another comment about the difference between positive thinking and reality. Faith means seeing the bad in things, too. Thanks for the insight!!

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  5. When I first read the title of this post, I thought it was a strange concept…but as soon as I read the passage you quoted about Jacob and Esau, I knew exactly where this post was going and I pretty much got slapped upside the head! Oh, man. I can relate to all of this. Immensely. And I guess that’s why it’s taken me so long to join in the discussion on this one. Because I didn’t want to talk about something I wasn’t actually willing to do something about. Chronic illness puts a whole other dimension on this battle, I think. Many symptoms make it hard to read, hard to focus, hard to do anything at all–and watching a TV show *isn’t* hard. Plus there’s the added bonus of letting me immerse myself in someone else’s life. A life that doesn’t involve my current circumstances. A life where people have relationship and connection and they’re not always flat on their back trying to recover from illness. I guess I live a bit vicariously through someone else’s story. And while that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, the fact that it leaves me feeling even more alone and discouraged about my own story tells me straight up that this ain’t helping things. And yes, I just said “ain’t.” 🙂 I am trying to make little tiny steps in the right direction, starting with being strict about bedtime since it’s pretty hard to argue that I’m “trying to get stronger” when I don’t make a point of getting the nightly sleep that I need every night. And I think for me it’s about *addition* rather than *subtraction,* focusing on adding in the things that are important rather than focusing first on stripping out everything that’s not. Because you are so right in what you’re saying about spiritual hunger being the real reason we’re grasping about for something to fill us up in the first place. So I guess this is just me waving from my corner of the world to say I’m totally with you on this one and I want to do things differently, even if I’m not quite sure how to get there yet. Thank you for the straight talk. I totally needed it!

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    1. Courtney… First, I love you girl and your encouragement for everyone here. It’s really humbling for me to see that everyone who’s commented shares this struggle! It’s something I’ve been battling for a loooong time. I think you hit the nail on the head for all of us. It’s so easy to want to tune out or live vicariously through media when things are so much harder in “real life” or when we’re dissatisfied. Definitely nothing wrong with enjoying media except when it becomes the highlight of my day or like you said we start feeling worse about our own lives. I’m right there with you on the bedtime thing. I was sooo good about taking care of myself until I got discouraged, then I slid into this bad habit… Here’s to babysteps and remembering that where we’re weak, He’s strong. Hang in there… I believe we’re going to get there!

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