How do you spell relief? “N-O-A-H”?

When Lamech had lived 182 years, he fathered a son 29 and called his name Noah, saying, “Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed, this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.” 30 Lamech lived after he fathered Noah 595 years and had other sons and daughters. 31 Thus all the days of Lamech were 777 years, and he died.

32 After Noah was 500 years old, Noah fathered Shem, Ham, and Japheth. – Genesis 5:28-32

Yellow Bouquet in a Pasture | Timpson, Texas | March 2021

I finally got it when I was a freshman in college. I was completely bamfoozled about how to spell the word their. This was not a confusion issue between “their” and “there.” I know that “their” is a possessive determiner and “there” is an adverb. There is a difference between, “Their books were there,” and “There books were their.” The second is wrong, but could be made right by adding an apostrophe s to the final their. But I digress. I couldn’t remember whether it was “their” or “thier.” My brain just couldn’t capture it. “I before e, except after c, or sounded as a as in neighbor or weigh.” Right? So, “thier!” Right? Wrong. But I couldn’t keep it straight. 

Finally my English professor gave me the key. “Just think of “the” and add an “ir.” Thank you! Silly, yes. But that’s how I learned it. There.

Lamech of Genesis 5 lives 777 years, while the Lamech of Genesis 4 warns of a 77-fold revenge. And notice also how Noah’s birth brings an end to the “…and he died,” refrain of this chapter, which now ends with the announcement of the birth of Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

This Lamech is the father of Noah, and when Noah is born, his father says, “Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed, this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.” Noah’s name means relief or more accurately rest, and is sometimes translated as comfort. Lamech anticipates that Noah would bring relief by the birth of his son. Perhaps relief would come by Noah’s helping him till the ground and deal with the thorns it would produce and lessen the sweating of his brow (cf. Genesis 3:17-19). 

Isn’t this our hope and anticipation when children are born? We expect them to be a comfort and help to us, though often they prove otherwise (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary). In any case, we all yearn for comfort or relief of some kind. We all experience pain in childbirth, troubles between sexes, thorns and thistles, and burdensome and sweat-producing labor. The impact of sin is as old as the Fall. And it will be with us until the end of time.

So, how do you spell relief? When we yearn for rest, relief, comfort, or better days, we can turn to many sources. Many are woefully inadequate and counterproductive. Some are even harmful. And while we may find true relief in the blessing of children, the comfort of brothers and sisters in Christ, in companionship and blessings of husband and wife, none of these will fully comfort us. Relief is not spelled N-O-A-H, or C-H-I-L-D-R-E-N, or S-P-O-U-S-E. But there is even here a prospect of something more. 

“We need better comforters under our toil and sorrow, than the dearest relations and the most promising offspring; may we seek and find comforts in Christ” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary).

Click here, or on the podcast player below to listen to this blogpost.

Paul says here that we are children of the light and not of the darkness. We who follow the true light who has come into the world (cf. John 1:9), are called to stay in the light. We are called to live as though people can see what we are doing and give glory to our Father in heaven. We who are of the light must live as though we are in the light. Awake. Honorable. Decent. Faithful. I'm all too aware, however, that we who belong to the light sometimes turn it off. We depart from the light in fits of anger, moments of weakness, and even times of purposeful rebellion. We're just like Adam and Eve. We have it all – eternal life, the presence of God, and his loving provision – and we think we want more. Whose are we then?
  1. Whose are you?
  2. The comfort of not understanding
  3. No Little Thing
  4. Living with The End in mind
  5. Jesus will return in triumphant splendor!

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