God’s Holy Humor and Provision
Jacob Marries Laban’s Daughters
Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my kinsman, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?” Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah’s eyes were lovely, and Rachel was graceful and beautiful. Jacob loved Rachel; so he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.” So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.
Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.” So Laban gathered together all the people of the place, and made a feast. But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob; and he went in to her. (Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her maid.) When morning came, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?” Laban said, “This is not done in our country—giving the younger before the firstborn. Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years.” Jacob did so, and completed her week; then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel as a wife.
The Happy Home of the Faithful
A Song of Ascents.
Happy is everyone who fears the Lord,
who walks in his ways.
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
you shall be happy, and it shall go well with you.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.
Thus shall the man be blessed
who fears the Lord.
The Lord bless you from Zion.
May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
May you see your children’s children.
Peace be upon Israel!
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.
God’s Love in Christ Jesus
What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all day long;
we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Follow God, go to church, don’t drink, smoke, or have sex before marriage, and you will marry a beautiful spouse and have lots of beautiful, healthy, talented kids and at least twice as many grandkids… and if you are worried about how you will pay for all those birthday presents, never fear… God will provide!
Does that sound familiar to you? Maybe no one ever said it quite that bluntly, but did you grow up getting that message communicated to you on some underlying level from church, from grandma, and from your parents?
Sometime our hopes and dreams for those we care about become some of the greatest stumbling blocks to preaching and teaching the gospel. The end of Ecclesiastes tells us pretty clearly that there are no guarantees in life. So, making big promises about smooth sailing in life is often tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment to those we are trying to encourage. I don’t think we need to go into predictions of divorce, job loss, and cancer. I just think it is wiser, and ultimately kinder to be upfront about the challenge that real life is.
Paul tells us like it is. Expect to be wounded for being faithful. Expect to be teased and taunted, picked on and persecuted. It is not just about preparing for the worst. Jesus Himself taught that a student is not above his master and the world ran Jesus right up a cross. How can we expect better treatment than the Son of God?
But Paul continues on… it is this very persecution which unveils our faith, and ultimately God’s faithfulness to us. While we are not promised prosperity, God promises to provide what is truly necessary. Some days that is money to pay the bills. Other days it is a free dinner at a church. On rare occasions it may even mean a night spent in prison to give us the time to pray and examine our priorities, because the truth is, we often draw closer to God in times of loss than in times of gain.
Jacob is a perfect example. He did not live the perfect life, but he thought he found the perfect woman to be his wife. Then, as it turned out, he got a double blessing by being tricked into marrying two sisters. Now, I don’t believe in multiple spouses (polygamy) and I sorta think you’d have to be completely off your gourd to even attempt two relationships that take more than everything you have each… but marrying two sisters would top even that. Not only would there be the normal amount of jealousy and family conflict to deal with… you would inherit some 20 years of their family conflict before you even met them. Jacob may have initially thought he was getting the best deal out of this, but that prosperity would become the heart of conflict for the rest of his life. All those children only means thinner rations when there is famine in the land. Multiply your blessings and expect your challenges to go right along with them.
But that is just God’s sense of humor isn’t it? He teaches us to be content in and trust ultimately in Him, and Him alone. It is only God Himself who will never let us down. Everything else is meant to be the icing on the cake.
What blessings have turned into struggles for you in your life?
How do you return to a place of gratitude for one of the challenges?
How is God providing for you today?