Tough Times


“It’s not right or wrong, it’s just different,” was a phrase I learned when preparing for a summer living overseas in a different culture. This was very helpful in dealing with differences in culture that I had never experienced before. Strapping babies in a bed—different. Women always wearing skirts and head coverings—different. But some things are wrong in all societies. And sometimes, great injustices occur. 

  • Are there rights or entitlement you have been denied? How have you dealt with it?


38:1 It happened at that time that Judah went down from his brothers and turned aside to a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah. There Judah saw the daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua. He took her and went in to her, and she conceived and bore a son, and he called his name Er. She conceived again and bore a son, and she called his name Onan. Yet again she bore a son, and she called his name Shelah. Judah was in Chezib when she bore him.

And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord put him to death. Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.” But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his. So whenever he went in to his brother’s wife he would waste the semen on the ground, so as not to give offspring to his brother. 10 And what he did was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and he put him to death also. 11 Then Judah said to Tamar his daughter-in-law, “Remain a widow in your father’s house, till Shelah my son grows up”—for he feared that he would die, like his brothers. So Tamar went and remained in her father’s house.

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. Who was Er? Why did the Lord put him to death?
  2. Verse 8 explains the custom or duty for that culture. How do you think Tamar was feeling before verse 8? What was her emotional state after verse 10?
  3. Did Judah honor the custom of the day? Was this a reflection of his faith or lack thereof?
  4. How was the situation difficult for both Judah and Tamar?
  5. How do you respond in times of bad circumstances and injustice? How can you hold to God in those times?


The custom was to have a brother take the place of his dead brother and give that widow a son as means of provision. Not only was Tamar a widow two times over, but Judah was denying her the right of provision by withholding Shelah. The men in this family didn’t live up to their responsibilities before the Lord, creating great stress for Tamar. When we see the wrongs done to us and face difficult situations, we have a choice in how we respond. God desires our faithfulness. Be encouraged that he sees our pain and offers us justice, hope, and healing.

  • Pray and thank God for seeing every hurt and pain in your life.
  • Pray for God’s strength to be faithful in your responsibilities.