It seems as though in stories and movies the audience tends to favor anyone but the main protagonist. For instance, I have never heard someone say Harry Potter, whom J.K. Rowling’s entire franchise centers on, is their favorite character. Yet, without Harry Potter, there would be no story, no happy ending. Why do some people bask in the limelight while others fade to the background? What makes one person more of the main character than another? This dilemma occurs not only in fictional tales but also in real life. It seems as though the Lord Himself labels certain people as protagonists despite their glaring flaws.
Abraham, as I will refer to him in this essay so as not to put more emphasis on his name change rather than the essay’s actual subject, lied twice to foreign rulers in order to protect himself. His character seems to be a blatant contrast of my own, seeing as he finds favor with God whereas I feel as though my life represents that of a victim, such as the foreign kings Abraham tricks. It befuddles me to witness the exaltation of Abraham in churches and sermons considering his deceitful behavior. This puzzling situation hits home for me because my whole life I have felt as though I was merely a supporting character, no matter how hard I worked to achieve success. Yet Abraham lied and still found favor with the Lord.
Abraham’s virtuous characteristics, such as generosity, have been highlighted in most Sunday school teachings while his acts of deceit and continual disobedience seem to be brushed under the rug. Abraham has always been portrayed as one of the heroes of the Christian faith— he exemplified selflessness by allowing his nephew Lot to choose his land first and then went on to save Lot from his captors. God even went so far as to bless Abraham with the promise of a nation through his descendants. Abraham does deserve exaltation as a man of the Lord, but since the Fall, no man besides Jesus proved to be perfect.
Abraham’s journeys to foreign lands expose his flaws of selfish desire and disregard for those he should be ministering to. First, during a time of famine, Abraham travels to Egypt. Abraham believes the Egyptians will kill him in order to get to his gorgeous wife Sarah, selfishly fearing only for himself rather than his wife, whom God has placed him as protector of. In turn, Abraham hatches the brilliant idea for Sarah to tell the Egyptians that she is merely his sister. He saves his skin while also setting Sarah up for the sexual slaughter. The pharaoh falls for their lies, taking Sarah to the palace. Consequently, the Lord afflicts the Egyptians with disease despite their innocent role in the situation. Next, Abraham journeys to Gerar, where again Abraham advises Sarah to lie about their relationship. King Abimelech of the Gerar also finds Sarah extremely beautiful and has sex with her.
This time God personally comes to Abimelech in a dream and tells him that he has slept with another man’s wife, to which Abimelech pleads for mercy. God does grant the Gerar mercy by not destroying them for their king’s transgression; however, the Lord still closes the wombs of females. Only after Abraham prays for Abimelech does God reopen their wombs.
All my life I have felt as though I’m playing second fiddle to people less deserving than me. Perhaps, like Abraham, that’s my selfish desire shining through my generous exterior—the fact I just want to be noticed for once, whether it be for my intelligence, athletic ability, or even outward beauty. Still, Abraham reigns as one of God’s favorites whereas I seem to be one of the many He has forgotten. My only connection with Abraham consists of us both enduring two identical scenarios—he shone as the hero despite his villainous actions, while my tenacity and hard work earned me second best. In fact, I identify more with the duped foreigner rulers.
In high school, I struggled a lot with feeling like life was unfair. No matter how many sports I played, excelling in all of them, or how high my grades were, it never seemed enough to win recognition from those around me. Even during my senior year, the coaches elected juniors as the captain of our volleyball team, yet they could not give me a sufficient answer as to why I was unsuitable for the position. The juniors they had selected only spoke to their friends and ostracized anyone, like me, who was not in their inner circle. I began playing varsity volleyball in the seventh grade and ever since then all I had wanted was to be a captain. I worked hard to let my teammates shine by scoring points while I did the essential but unnoticed work of digging balls. I loved the sport and for once did not desire the praise of others as much, but I had my heart set on being a captain. Similar to the pharaoh tricked by Abraham, I did no wrong, yet was punished while the favorites in my story basked in blessings despite them being the actual antagonists.
Additionally, I received Salutatorian at my graduation, much to my chagrin, simply because I had not been offered the same advanced opportunities at my old school that some of my peers had access to at the school I graduated from. There is no true way to paint just exactly how empty I felt standing up on that stage holding my award. What had all the hours I had spent studying been for? How many parties and hangouts had I opted out of in order to double check my AP homework? In my mind, the answer formulated as this: “You spent all that extra time and hard work to be first loser.” It had all meant nothing, nothing at all.
Abraham also encountered a situation identical to his first; however, he still came out on top even though he neglected to change his deceitful behavior. Again, Abraham received offerings from Abimelech for committing sins against him, whereas I got shafted for reasons beyond my control. It honestly just seems like I have been destined to play this supporting character that never gets any recognition while people like Abraham, who lie and cheat, receive all the applause. Sometimes it makes me so frustrated that I just want to scream. I want to give up and accept my faded, unnoticed role.
However, in these dark times, God shines His brilliant light upon me. Rereading my paragraphs above, I realize that I have constructed this unrealistic outlook that I should have on life. Shakespeare believed that “the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.” While Shakespeare's statement does ring true to some degree since God designed each of us with a specific purpose, the parts we play fall second place to the message our play, or rather life, should convey. I am not a mere background character in someone else’s breakout role.
Instead, I am a supporting player in the story of the Lord. He is and will always be the protagonist of all of our stories, whether we acknowledge this fact or not. In this sense, we all play supporting roles to fulfill His will since we were created in His image and to bring glory to Him. God utilizes all of our unique talents and abilities to honor His greatness, as well as the redemptive gifts of His Son. Even if it does appear that he favors some over others, as in the case of Abraham and those he wronged, or when examining my own life, the Lord does not discriminate.
In short, God appears to be playing favorites, especially when it comes to the unsuspectingly deceitful Abraham. I sometimes find it hard to believe that God does not hold certain preferences, especially when His creation often seems to put some people above others for no legitimate reason. Yet, God has opened my eyes to reveal the bigger picture of His will, as well as heal my heart from scars left from feeling neglected and overshadowed by those around me. He is the true “star of the show.” He views me the same as He views everyone else— to Him I will never be second best. Therefore, the Lord has helped me to understand that He has intricately woven all our lives in such a way that everyone is important in spreading His Word and glorifying Him.
"Favorites & the Forgotten," written by Kadie Sue Martin, was proffesor-nominated as an outstanding FYE piece published in the Spring 2022 edition of The Crossings "Author's on the Rise."