Last Sunday I spoke on Dealing with Disappointment and how to cope with unmet expectations.
Here are some further thoughts on the subject looking at the story of Jacob.
The first thing we see Jacob doing is taking things into his own hands by stealing his brother’s inheritance through deceit. You may know the story. His dad has poor eye sight and Jacob dresses up like his older twin brother to trick his dad into giving him the inheritance that should have belonged to Esau.
Jacob has to run away to escape his brother clutches and when he finally rests he has a dream. In the dream he sees a stairway to heaven (also inspiring the development of rock music in the 1970s – different story, sorry). The Lord says ‘I am with you and I will not leave you until I have done what I promise.’
Jacob says ‘surely the Lord is in this place and I was not aware of it.’
He moves on from there looking for a place to stay and finds his relatives. He falls in love with his uncle’s daughter Rachel. Now according to scripture she is a total babe. The NIV version describe her as having a lovely figure and beautiful. See, total babe!!! Rachel had an older sister, Leah and she is described as having either weak eyes or delicate eyes. We are not sure of the original Hebrew here but I hope for her sake that it was delicate eyes!
It was Rachel that Jacob was bonkers for and so he agrees to do seven years work for nothing other than marrying. On the wedding night a couple do what a couple do on their wedding night. However, the lights must have been off because when Jacob wakes up it is Leah laying next to him in bed. He has been tricked and so he works another seven years. Fourteen years of working and waiting and finally he can marry Rachel.
Now putting aside the slightly dodgy ethnics here of Jacob being tricked into marrying Leah. We must remember Old Testament is descriptive not prescriptive. What can we learn from Jacob?
1. Jacob had an expectation of his life and how it would work out. Nothing wrong with that but to achieve it he took things into his own hands. We can so often be tempted to do the same. We are told to pray as if everything depends on God and act as if everything depends on you. There is a sweet spot somewhere in the middle of that where we are resting/waiting trusting in God while making the most of every opportunity. Seek God for that sweet spot rather than doing nothing or doing everything on your own without God.
2. Even in our disappointment God is here with us. God used the dream that Jacob had to remind him that God is with him. Can I remind you that God is with you in your disappointment. I pray you like Jacob can recognise the presence of God.
3. We may be doing everything right like Jacob working for seven years to marry Rachel. However, our timings are not always Gods timings and we have to learn to wait in peace and stand trusting in God.
As you do this prayer maybe helpful.
Father in Heaven,
I come before you with my heart filled with so many different thoughts and feelings. I am tense and uncertain about what I should be doing and where I should go. I feel weak and helpless. Powerless. I am worried about what happens next and whether I have the strength to handle it. Deep down I wonder, how long will I be here? Will I be stuck in this place of waiting forever? And why am I here to begin with? What’s happening, Lord? But most of all, I wonder, where are you? Why haven’t you responded to my cries for help?
But even as I pray that, I know you are right where you’ve always said you would be. You’ve never left me and you will never forsake me. You are not deaf to my cries. In fact, you know the thoughts in my heart before I even think them. You know exactly what is happening, why I am here, and what is going to happen next. All things are in your sovereign care and control. Nothing happens outside your knowledge and will. Not even a hair falls from my head without your willing it to happen. Nothing surprises you or takes you off guard. Including this issue right here, right now. You know why I am here waiting and you have promised to use it for your glory and my good.
Forgive me for all my doubts, worries, and fears. Forgive me for my impatience as I wait in this place. Forgive me for questioning the story you’ve written for me. Forgive me for not seeking your face and allowing the struggles before me to seem greater and stronger than your grace and mercy for me. Cleanse my heart of all that keeps me from you. Help me to see the ways I have tried to be my own god and my own savior. Help me to see the false idols I have erected to worship and serve instead of you. Help me to see the things I am clinging to right now that I think I must have to make me happy and help me to repent and turn from them.
I believe, help me in my unbelief! Help me to remember that it is good to wait for you. As the prophet wrote in Lamentations, “It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” (3:26). As I wait, help me to remember and dwell on the salvation you’ve provided for me through Christ. Help me to remember that the same grace that saved me at the cross is the same grace that sustains me today. And that same grace is at work in me even now, shaping me into the image of your Son. And no matter what happens, no matter my current circumstances, I am safe in the shelter of your wings. There is nothing that can separate me from your love. Nothing and no one can snatch me from your hands.
Grant me the joy that comes from knowing you and being known by you. Fill my heart with gospel joy. Strengthen me by your word. May the words of the Psalmist be true of me, “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope” (Psalm 130:5).
Help me to remain faithful in this place of waiting. Help me to serve you and live for you even in this crossroad of my life. Help me to wait as long as it takes.
I pray all these things because of Jesus and in his name,