“…And he said what hast thou done? The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground…” Gen. 4:10
My older brothers were some of my first teachers. In addition to the wholesome instruction of my father’s voice, I doted over my big brothers and their every word, whether right or wrong. One of our earliest lessons was to always protect yourself and be able to defend yourself. With that lesson, it was understood but never explained that I should be ready at any given time to receive an onslaught of punches. They would happen instantly and sometimes without reason, or so it seemed. As the youngest and most trusting, I found myself more than once weeping loudly. My brothers would offer everything from candy to money in exchange for the cease and silence of my wails. They most usually fell on deaf ears, and uncontrollable screaming would ensue. It was then that we could hear one or both of our parents exclaim, “Hey! Is somebody crying in there!? I’m getting everybody if I have to get up! Who is in there crying!?”
Cain and Abel were much like my brothers and me. They were night and day in their assessments; they developed at different spaces in their lives for different purposes, and they felt the pressure to produce. The correlation with my brothers stops there, however. You see, Cain felt it most appropriate to compete with his brother for approval ratings, stopping at nothing to be first. Abel just wanted to please God. It didn’t matter which job was seen as the most important, whether his name was called first or last, or if he ever got the applause. He just wanted God to be pleased with what he offered Him. Abel understood that the sacrifice was not as important as the heart posture when making the sacrifice.
He didn’t have much time to explain that to his brother, though. Tired of constantly hearing how incredible Abel’s offering was, Cain grew mad with the quest of removing what he saw as the competition. He didn’t understand that God loved Him too. He didn’t understand that God wanted to bless him according to his own gifts because he was wrapped up in destroying the gift of his brother. He rationed within himself that if he killed the competition, he’d gain the blessing.
It doesn’t work this way. It never works this way.
God began to look for the brothers. He asked one brother where the other was. Instead of replying truthfully, Cain began to deflect and attempt to distract. He knew that he had killed his brother and that the blood of his brother cried out from the ground. As any parent would, God began to ask Cain, “where is your brother…somebody is crying down there!”
Homework is never easy, but I want to give you some. Consider the times in which you were jealous or envious of someone else. Ponder the popularity contest of public opinion, and search within yourself for the many times you wanted to be in front and not in place. Think on the many dreams, hopes, and plans we have killed by the words of our mouths toward others. And lest we be Black in Black History Month, consider those whose shoulders we stand upon. Are we accessories to their unfortunate plights, as we kill their hopes and dreams for their descendants, while we live beneath our birthright, treat one another poorly, and refuse to stand together? Someone is crying, and they can hear it!
The vast majority of vitriolic hate comes from an insecure place. Much like Cain, we forget that the greatest work we will ever do is not to beat or overshadow our brother but rather to shine with him! Even when Cain killed Abel, he still could not kill his legacy. He could not smudge his favor with God. In this month, as we honor those who have paved the way, I beseech you to also honor your beautiful selves with the truth that your life, gift, and legacy are just as important. What will people eventually read of you? Will it be that you killed someone trying to become them? Or will it be that you died empty, having fulfilled all that God set before you? Take up your righteous courage, and fight you, for you. We are all dependent upon your memory to acknowledge that there is always a cry from a wrong. Will the cry speak your name? Or will you be found sufficiently complete in Him? Somebody is crying!