Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
I was thinking about this story the other day – the story of Jacob, Rachel, Leah, and Laban.
As you will recall, Jacob had to get as far away from Dodge as possible, because Esau wanted to kill him. After a very long journey (more than 400 miles), Jacob reached the city of Paddan Aram where his maternal uncle – Laban lived.
Upon his arrival, he spoke with the shepherds in the village and asked where he could find Laban. While he was still speaking with the locals, he saw Rachel walking toward him. She was a stunningly beautiful woman, and Jacob immediately fell head-over-heels in love with her.
Rachel announced Jacob’s arrival to her father, and Laban rushed to greet him. Immediately, Jacob went to work for his uncle. After a month of toiling, Laban asked, “Tell me what your wages should be.” Now, Jacob came to Paddan Aram to start a new life, and he needed a wife. Since Jacob already knew that he had to have Rachel as his bride, he agreed to work for seven years to pay for her dowry.
For the next seven years, Jacob worked diligently, without complaint. To him, this was well worth the hand of Rachel. Once the covenant had been fulfilled, Jacob asked for the wedding, as he was promised.
Laban agreed, and soon invited the entire community for the wedding celebration. There was great food, and the wine was flowing freely. At the end of the evening, Jacob was tired, and probably needed a designated donkey driver. Nonetheless, he would not be denied his wedding night with the love of his life.
Our focus this month is …
1 Thessalonians 5:18 – Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Jacob was in for a rude awakening.
Can you imagine how Jacob felt the next morning? When he went to bed, he thought that he was finally receiving his reward for all the hard work he provided to Laban; but instead, by the dawn’s early light, he discovered that Laban had tricked him, and he had consummated the marriage with Rachel’s older sister – Leah.
What do you do when you were promised Rachel, and receive Leah instead?
That happens to us all the time. You go on Amazon to purchase the product you think is the great, only to find out that it is really junk. You order a burger at a fast-food restaurant (not named Whataburger, of course) and find that the finished product looks nothing like the picture on the wall. Or the guy at the dealership tells you on the phone that he still has the advertised vehicle on the lot, and after your 45-minute drive to get there, you find out it sold right before you got there; but there is an even better one for just a little more money.
It’s called Bait-and-Switch, and that is exactly what happened to Jacob.
I am reminded of a song by Mary Chapin Carpenter.
I love country music. These songs handle some very deep philosophical topics with a simplicity unmatched by any other genre. The song is titled “The Bug” and the hook goes like this.
Sometimes you’re the windshield. Sometimes you’re the bug.
There is a lot of wisdom packed into that one little line. Sometimes things go your way, and sometimes they don’t. It’s easy when things go your way, but what matters most is how you handle things when life gets rough.
Well, what does this have to do with Paul’s letter?
I’m glad you asked.
Our focus is saying to give thanks in all circumstances because it is God’s will. I think most people misinterpret this verse to mean we should thank God for every bad thing that comes along; but that is not what it really says.
This verse tells us that we should be thankful IN all, not FOR all circumstances.
Do you see the difference here?
We don’t need to give thanks FOR the bad things in life, but rather we should give thanks to God that his plan is perfect. We don’t have to like what we’re going through. We just need to give thanks to God, for He is good.
Realize that whatever our troubles are now, they are only temporary, whereas our reward is eternal. When you accept that notion, it is much easier to …
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Patrick G Howard