Growth in Tough Circumstances

Today I read Genesis 31-33. Here is Jacob who goes to a foreign land, works for his uncle for 7 years for one wife, is tricked into marrying the wrong woman, works another 7 years for the one he intended on marrying the first time, then works another 6 years to get a flock for himself. All the while his own uncle is trying to double cross him and take the best possessions for himself, his wives are fighting over who is having more kids, they each have him marry their servants to have more kids, and when he tries to leave his uncle is upset and calls him a thief. There was enough in those 20 years to make many people give up or want to escape all the drama. I can’t imagine the problems he faced and the mental anguish he must have gone through all the while staying honest and faithful to his uncle, his wives, and God.

Yet in the midst of those 20 or so years, God blessed everything he did, growing his flock despite his uncle’s sabotage, growing his family despite his wives arguments, and preparing him for the day he would leave to go back to Canaan. He even had a wrestling match with God who messed up his hip and was able to reconcile with both his uncle and his brother Esau. Despite what seemed to be a messed up situation, God was using it to grow and prepare Jacob for all that he had for him. Jacob’s character and faithfulness are a testament to his character and having gone through all of that, he was ready for what God wanted to bring his way.

Reflecting on my own life it makes the problems and situations I face seem so small in comparison. I don’t have the uncle problem, the brother rift, or wife problems that he had. I have problems with ministry situations not going the way I want them to, waiting for decisions to be made and even having to go along with one’s I don’t agree with. I have issues with my boys and their medical issues and the other challenges that come with raising children. But those are nothing compared to what Jacob faced. Yet I find that I complain about these things from time to time instead of seeing them as challenges to face and character builders that will continue to refine and prepare me for all that God has for me. I need to move beyond cynicism and complaining to staying faithful and displaying character in those situations. I may not agree with everything and even feel stifled by decisions made or directions taken by the team but that does not mean I have to complain or check out. I need to engage and work as hard as if I had put the strategies in place myself. Sure it is difficult to go with certain decisions when I am not passionate with the direction or outcomes, but there are times when I lead and times when I follow and in these cases I am the one who needs to follow.

Lord, help me to be a man of faith and character. Help me to see situations that don’t go my way as opportunities to grow in my faith and character, knowing you are continually preparing me for what you have ahead of me. Help me to move forward in all I do with passion knowing that I am serving you not other people. Amen.
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