The girls were thoroughly miffed! Their father had had every opportunity to profit from Jacob’s association with their family. The man had a blessing on his head. He had great skill as a herdsman. He was able to prosper the family business. Not only that, Laban had had fourteen years of his skills for free. Well not exactly for free – Jacob had paid in service to take and marry his daughters Leah and Rachel (Genesis 31:14-16). Whilst these ladies were happy with Jacob as a husband, they felt their father had squandered the opportunity to enrich the family by competing against Jacob instead of working with him.
They could see only too obviously how stupid it is to work against someone who clearly has God’s blessing on their life. And yet it happens.
Those of us who have given our lives over to God, who have been adopted as sons into his Kingdom, have such a blessing on our lives. And those who try to cheat us are the losers. But that doesn’t stop them trying! So what should we do when we are treated unfairly as Jacob was?
- Well Jacob did not lose his cool. He saw right through Laban’s game, and quietly laughed his socks off when God still prospered him (v7-9).
- He recognized God’s protection – “God has not allowed him to harm me.”
- He recognized God’s provision – “So God has taken away your father’s livestock and has given them to me.”
- He didn’t go looking for trouble.
- He listened and obeyed when God told him it was time to distance himself (v13).
- He cunningly and wisely protected his assets (v20-21).
In short, he worked with God, did what he could to help himself, and left the rest in God’s capable hands.
I think the difficulty can be that when troubles arise, we tend to be so focused on the problem, we can miss what God is doing. Our prayers tend to get quite fervent when we are struggling, and we forget to praise. We forget too, that we have God’s blessing on our lives; and however others treat us, God has counted the hairs on our head, and each one of those hairs he blesses!