Jane Walsh, a Chief Deputy in the Denver, Colorado DA’s office, advocates for the vulnerable. In a recent TED Talk she speaks about her work combating the rise of predatory scams perpetrated upon elders. The facts and figures she shares in her talk about the number of scams and amount taken are harrowing. She shares story after story of compassionate elders who are pressured, coerced, and threatened until their nest eggs are taken from them. Deputy Walsh arrested my attention when she said, “But right now, on some level, we’re still thinking that this is not something that is going to happen to us. We couldn’t get scammed, not us. Not our smart friends and family.” That is exactly what I was thinking.
Then I remember the story of Isaac and his two sons. Isaac is one of the pillars of our faith. Throughout the Hebrew scriptures God is referred to as, “the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob.” Isaac saw the obedience of his father Abraham and the mercy and faithfulness of God. Isaac was no fool and yet Isaac fell victim to a scam.
In Genesis 27, we read the story of how Isaac’s son Jacob tricked his father to steal the blessing from his brother Esau. Jacob’s mother Rebekah coached Jacob on how to deceive his father and take the blessing intended for his older brother. When Isaac realized what his younger son Jacob had done he cried out to Esau, “Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing.” This scam caused great pain that plagued their family for years.
In addition to technological changes (e.g. doorbell cameras, and text alerts from banks) to legislative changes, Deputy DA Walsh combats elder scams by encouraging families to talk. Families need to talk about the kinds of scams that are out there and how to keep themselves safe. She counsels younger family members to approach their elders with humility and respect. And she celebrates the elders who are willing to courageously have such difficult conversations. Through honest, humble, and other focus conversations we show our “devotion to one another in love” (Romans 12:10)
While there are moments in the scriptures where Biblical characters are meant to inspire us, often their role is to help us see ourselves. They are meant to give us a way to talk about the challenges and concerns in our lives. Through positive and negative examples, they remind us to live with humility and to trust in God. Ultimately, God brings good out of the story of Jacob and Esau and after many years they reconcile.
Just as the resurrection power was at work in the story of Jacob and Esau’s brokenness relationship, may the resurrection power of God be at work in your life today.