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Topic: Labor (04/19/04)
TITLE: A Labor of Love
By Lisa Beaman
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"Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful. Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, 'I'll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.'
"Laban said, 'It's better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.' So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her." (Genesis 29:16-20)
This is where the story gets interesting. Jacob had just left his own family because of the fear of the consequences of his deceiving his brother. He worked seven years to earn the love of his life and then his own uncle tricked him into marrying his other daughter Leah. Jacob the deceiver, was deceived.
He must have loved Rachel so much! He agreed to work seven years for her, yet the time only seemed like a few days. Can you imagine the shock he had the morning after his wedding when he realized his bride was Leah? I don't blame him for being upset. However, what goes around comes around. He had used lies and deceit to achieve what God had already promised and Laban used lies and deceit on him to marry off an unattractive daughter.
Seven years he had worked. Seven years! Then, when he realized he had been tricked, he agreed to work seven more years for what had already been promised to him. The second seven years were probably a little different though, because this time he was actually given Rachel at the beginning (Genesis 29:30). Jacob could have cheated Laban at this point. He could have taken his wives and left the country without fulfilling his second term of work. But he didn't. He stayed and finished his labor of love.
Labor can be useful in many ways. Besides the fruit it produces, labor can be very therapeutic. Simply working with your hands can give you peace and contentment. God can also use times of labor to teach us valuable lessons.
I wonder what lesson Jacob learned through all of this? I wonder what God had impressed upon his heart during those fourteen years? Somewhere along the line, he stopped trying to control his future. Somewhere he had stopped trying to make others do what he felt they should do. He didn't try to change Laban. Instead he did all that he could to earn the love of his life (He didn't earn his birthright and blessing, but he worked hard to earn Rachel).
Is labor ever in vain? Did the first seven years of Jacob's work amount to nothing? Even if our work does not produce the results that we intend, the process may produce the results that God intends. God was able to bring about a patient endurance in Jacob through his labor.
What is God teaching us in our tasks at hand? What fruit can God bring about from our labor? "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." (Colossians 3:23)