|ACOB'S FATHER-IN-LAW, Laban, wasn't a very nice guy. (Genesis 31) First, he made Jacob work seven years for permission to marry the girl he loved, Laban's daughter Rachel. Then, on the wedding day, the scoundrel deceived Jacob into marrying Rachel's sister Leah instead. (This girl must have been a dandy, if her dad had to trick somebody into marrying her.) Then Laban made Jacob work another seven years to win the woman of his dreams.|
Even after Jacob became part of his family, Laban didn't give him any breaks. He made Jacob work six more years to obtain flocks of his own. Then the greedy cheat told Jacob, "The speckled and streaked ones will be your wages." He kept the best for himself and gave Jacob the rejects.
Though Jacob worked diligently with all his strength, Laban continued to treat him unfairly, changing Jacob's wages ten times. He repeatedly made Jacob bear the losses while he kept the profits. This rat was determined to give his son-in-law a raw deal.
God, however, had other plans. And when God has a plan, nothing can thwart it. He was determined that Jacob would succeed, and Laban learned you can't keep God's man down.
God told Jacob, "I have seen all that Laban has done to you." Now, if I had been in Jacob's shoes, I might have answered, "You mean you've been watching all this and never jumped in to help me?" I probably would have questioned why God allowed this creep to succeed in his dastardly plans instead of zapping him with a lightening bolt. God, in His infinite wisdom, however, usually doesn't act the way I think He should.
If you're a parent to teenagers, you probably understand tough love. When teaching your kids a moral lesson, you don't protect them from uncomfortable situations. Instead, you allow them to endure difficulties long enough to sweat a little and learn from the experience. We all learn best from our mistakes, when there is nobody to bail us out. God allows us to endure situations rather than plucking us out of them, but that doesn't mean He deserts us. Like the trusty Mounties in silent movies, God shows up at just the right time.
Laban decreed that Jacob could only have the imperfect sheep, but God fixed him. He caused ALL the sheep born in Laban's herd to be spotted and streaked. Jacob's herd grew while his father-in-law's herd dwindled. Finally, Laban was getting what he deserved. If I were Jacob, I might have said "That's what you get you mean, old coot!" (As you can tell, God's not finished working on my attitude yet.)
The moral of this story is that control freaks like me shouldn't get flustered, frightened, or frustrated by calamities. Instead, we need to give up our unrealistic expectations, including the one that nothing bad should ever happen to us.
I'm working on burning this truth into my heart: Even when it doesn't look like it, God is in control and knows what I'm going through. He always has a plan in mind. And it will happen, in His time and in His way.
We usually can't see what possible reason God could have for allowing us to suffer; and we want to take matters into our own hands to correct the situation, but don't give up on God! No matter how unfairly you're treated or how heavily the odds weigh against you, if God wants something for you, it will work out.
Jacob didn't have to plot ways to outsmart his scheming father-in-law. He didn't need to take revenge. He kept doing the right thing and he waited for God to work. Just as God worked in Jacob's life, He can work in our lives too -- so that His plan will be accomplished. Trust God, follow Him, then watch Him work.
Marsha Jordan is a disabled grandmother, author, and shower singer who began her writing career on the bathroom walls of St. Joseph's Catholic Elementary School. Now her writing appears in restrooms throughout the country. Jordan has two boys, ages 30 and 55. She's been married to the 55 year old for 31 years.
She's been held captive for a quarter of a century In the north woods of Wisconsin where she shares an empty nest with her rocket scientist husband and their badly behaved toy poodle, King Louie who rules the household with an iron paw.
After her grandson was badly burned, Jordan created The HUGS and HOPE Foundation, a nonprofit charity devoted to cheering critically ill and injured children.
Jordan's inspirational and humorous essays are available in her new book, "Hugs, Hope, and Peanut Butter." The book is illustrated with drawings by kids who are battling for life.
More columns by Marsha Jordan