Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Lessons learned from the Hatfields and McCoys
"But the lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one." 2 Thessalonians 3:3
I am a Hatfield by marriage, and I am a history buff, so the History Channel's mini-series, "The Hatfields and McCoys" was of great interest to me. I have read about the feud before, and my father-in-law actually went to a huge family reunion once. And, who doesn't love Kevin Costner! So, I have watched two nights of it and will probably watch the last episode tonight, but it has saddened me in a way that this is the legacy of my husband's name...violence, arrogance, and twisted faith. So many deaths and broken lives...all becasue of misunderstandings and family loyalty.
But then I think that there was more going on here than just family loyalty. Some of the things that happened in those two families and the people around them was just pure evil...killing just to kill.
I have said this before, but I don't like to think about the devil and about evil forces at work in our world. It is easier to have faith in a God I can't see but know is there, than to believe in evil forces that I can't see. But, look around...there are a LOT of bad things happening everywhere. It makes sense that there is an unholy leader at work in our world...our enemy...who wants to see us fall, to get so discouraged we walk away from God and what is holy.
Thinking again about the Hatfields and McCoys, in the beginning, there was a friendship. The two patriarcs of the families grew up together and went to war together. They both saved each other in battle. But the war took it's toll and caused a fight between the two that sparked the most famous, or infamous really, family feud in history. Don't you think that the Devil might have had a part in this whole thing? Taking a friendship and encouraging each to rip it to shreds...something good became something ugly. I know as humans, God gave us free will...we make our own decisions and live with the consequences, good and bad. But, just as the serpent tempted and led Eve astray, don't you think it is more than possible that the Devil plays a part in tempting us and leading us astray too? Instead of just letting go of it, the Devil nagged at the McCoy to make a big deal and sue the Hatfields over that stolen pig. Instead of just letting two young people who fell in love get married as they wished the two fathers forbid the marriage between the two feuding families and started an avalanche of consequences. Doesn't it make sense that the Devil was involved in that?
In the verse right before the Thessalonians verse above, it says, "And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith." There is evil in this world...not everyone has faith in the God who saves...when you don't have that faith, it is easier to be led astray by the evil one who is prowling around, looking for people to destroy.
Faith in God can save you. Faith that God is more powerful than the evil one will protect you. Anse Hatfield's nickname was Devil Anse, which seems rather appropriate. The Devil was involved in the whole thing. Later in his life, after many murders and much sadness, Anse Hatfield went to a revival and was saved. He was baptized and became a follower of Jesus. It has been written that Anse Hatfield spent the last years of his life knowing that his sins were forgiven and the Hatfield McCoy feud lost the fire behind it and finally stopped.
This famous feud is just an example of the evil at work in our world. God knows there is evil. If we ask for his protection from that evil, he is faithful and will protect us. That doesn't mean that bad things won't happen to us. But it does mean that God will protect our hearts from the evil one. We don't have to listen to the serpent whispering lies to us. When we ask him, God will strengthen us and give us a way out. We don't have to be part of the evil.
There are lessons to be learned from the Hatfields and McCoys. That is why I like history...we can look back at bad things that have happened in the past and figure out why they happened and then try to not let them happen again. I pray that our faithful God will strengthen you today and protect you from the evil one. So, Today, when someone insults you ar tries to steal your pig, just smile and walk away. I'm a Hatfield, and that's what I'm gonna do! ;-)