“Then Ephraim their father mourned many days, and his brethren came to comfort him. And when he went in to his wife, she conceived and bore a son; and he called his name Beriah, because tragedy had come upon his house” (1 Chronicles 7:22-23).
The beginning of the book of Chronicles lists the descendants of the various tribes of Israel. The 7th chapter of Chronicles describes the descendants of Ephraim, a grandson of Jacob, who made up one of the 12 tribes of Israel. However, tragedy had fallen upon Ephraim as the men of Gath had killed his descendants in order to take away their cattle (1 Chronicles 7:20-21). Understandably, Ephraim mourned many days over this tragedy (1 Chronicles 7:22). After his brethren came to comfort him, Ephraim and his wife were blessed with the birth of another son (1 Chronicles 7:23).
However, what is interesting is what Ephraim and his wife chose to name this newborn son. Ephraim called the name of this child “Beriah” which means “in tragedy” because tragedy had come upon his house. It is interesting that rather than rejoice in the future as God had blessed Ephraim with another child, Ephraim chose to dwell on the tragedy of the past and so named his newborn son.
It is understandable and appropriate that Ephraim and his wife would grieve over the loss of their family from the tragedy which happened to them. Grief is a natural part of the human experience and it is appropriate and essential to allow ourselves to grieve and pour out the pain we feel over the loss of loved ones. Jesus understood grief. “He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with GRIEF (emp. Mine), and we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him” (Isaiah 53:3). The apostle Paul encourages appropriate grieving as he writes, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).
The concern with Ephraim and his wife was not only did they appropriately pour out their grief for a time following the loss of their descendants, but they let that grief begin to dominate their lives as is seen in the naming of their newborn son Beriah. They begin to dwell on their grief rather than allow themselves to experience joy as in the birth of another child.
Following the rebuking of a young man who had sinned and his subsequent repentance, the apostle Paul urged the Christians at the church at Corinth to forgive him and reaffirm their love for him lest he be “swallowed up with too much sorrow” (2 Corinthians 2:7). Ephraim and his wife were in danger of being “swallowed up with too much sorrow over the tragedy which had earlier befallen their family.
As I think about this interesting account of Ephraim and his wife I have to consider: Do I tend to dwell on the tragedies of the past or rejoice in the hope of the future? Am I in danger of being “swallowed up with too much sorrow” over the tragedies of the past or do I allow myself to pour out my grief for a time, but then cling to God’s hand and look forward to the future opportunities that await me?
It is interesting that later in the same passage above, one of Ephraim’s descendants would be Joshua, the son of Nun, who would lead God’s people into the Promised Land (1 Chronicles 7:27). There was a great blessing awaiting Ephraim in the future. One of his descendants would become one of Israel’s greatest leaders. Today, I will choose not to be “swallowed up with much sorrow”, but we eagerly embrace the future and the joyful opportunities that God will offer to me!
“Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I hope in Him!" (Lamentations 3:22-24).