Laban and Jacob | Mistreated
Monday— When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?” Genesis 29:25
“Sure, you can marry my younger daughter. Sure, you can,” said Laban, who never intended to keep his promise.
“Sure, you’ll get that promotion. Sure, you will,” said the boss who never intended to skip his favorite employee to promote you.
“Sure, you can count on me,” said the irresponsible volunteer who never intended to show up. What do we do when we’ve been mistreated by false promisers? We believed them, based our decisions on what they said, and they deceived us.
We could feel sorrier for Jacob if he hadn’t been such a deceiver himself (Check out Genesis 27). But nobody deserves a switcheroo like that on his wedding night. Nobody deserves to be lied to, conned, or tricked into making decisions based on a false promise. When we give our word to someone, it should be as solid as a cashier’s check. We want people to know that if we said it, we’ll do it. Death or the ER are the only reasons we wouldn’t show up, pay up, or live up to what we promised. But then… someone deceives US. We’d never do that to them, but they did it to us. We want to get even. But to deceive because we’ve been deceived, to lie, cheat, or steal because it was done to us make us as bad as our abusers. God has a better way. Proverbs 20:22 says: “Don’t say, ‘I will get even for this wrong.’ Wait for the LORD to handle the matter.”
Final Thought: It’s terrible when we’re lied to, conned, or cheated; but it’s even worse if we do it to someone else.
Prayer: Father, have I made rash promises and then not followed through? I don’t want to be like Laban. I’d rather be mistreated than be the one doing the mistreating. May I be known for my honesty and integrity. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Tuesday— “Although he has cheated me and changed my wages ten times, God has not let him harm me.” Genesis 31:7
“Why are you staying late again?” asked Trey as he headed for the exit. He stopped to watch Virginia sweep a pile of wadded papers into her dustpan. “That’s not in your job description. You should complain to corporate.” She stood and rubbed her back. “Oh, it’s okay,” she said. “It hurts, but it doesn’t harm me.” Trey frowned. “When’s the last time you had a raise? Or a Christmas bonus? Why’re you going the extra mile for people who treat you like the trash in your pail there?” Virginia smiled. “I see it as a challenge from God to help me grow. I need this job and I consider that it’s preparing me for something greater.”
Laban had conned, manipulated, and lied to Jacob for 20 years. He’d played wife-swap on Jacob’s honeymoon and paid him pennies for all the work Jacob had done for him. So if God loved Jacob, why did He allow him to be mistreated? It was not because Laban was right, but because God was preparing Jacob for something greater. Mistreatment hurt, but it didn’t harm him. God was using it to teach him some things. Jacob the deceiver learned what it was like to be deceived. Jacob the entitled learned how to work hard. Jacob the impatient learned how to wait for what he wanted. Only then was he ready to make it right with the brother he’d cheated. Sometimes God allows us to be mistreated to teach us some lessons: humility, honesty, integrity, endurance… Only when we’ve proven to be faithful through mistreatment are we ready for something greater.
Final Thought: Could it be that the mistreatment you’ve suffered was intended to grow you, deepen you, and prepare you?
Prayer: Father, help me see the mistreatment I go through as an opportunity to grow up, not grow bitter. You waste nothing if my life is devoted to you, so use even _____________ugly situation for my good and your glory. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Wednesday— “God has seen my affliction and the toil of my hands, and last night He rendered judgment.” Genesis 31:42
-You were cheated out of what was rightfully yours.
-You were slandered so that people you love turned against you.
-You were conned and they took everything you worked for.
When we’ve been unjustly mistreated, we can feel alone in our hurt. It seems like our abusers are getting away with it.
Jacob’s story gives us a glimpse into what God might be doing in our own situations. When he’d finally had enough, Jacob took off in the night with all he owned. Laban came after him, threatening, “I could destroy you right now and take all this for myself,” then admitted, “But your God wouldn’t let me.” God had allowed Jacob’s mistreatment—to a point. Then God drew a line in the sand and warned Laban, “That’s enough.” When we are slandered, cheated, or conned, God draws a line in the sand. He allows a certain amount for our own good, but warns our abusers, “That’s enough.” It helps when we’re undergoing mistreatment to remember that our loving Father sees. He cares. And He also knows how He’s going to use it for our good.
Final Thought: If you’re suffering mistreatment right now, remember that at the right time God will say, “That’s enough.”
Prayer: Father, you don’t say “That’s enough” soon enough for me. But I place this situation in your hands. You know what you’re going to do with it if I will keep trusting you. Help me learn what you want me to learn. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Thursday— And they took stones and made a heap, and they ate there by the heap. Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha,
but Jacob called it Galeed. Genesis 31:46-47
They’d both made the covenant. They’d both said the words, promised not to harm each other, and ate together. They even worked together to build a huge rock pile as a monument to their treaty. But Laban called it one thing and Jacob called it another. Same situation. Same people involved. Different perspectives.
Understanding perspective is an important part of dealing with mistreatment. Sometimes what we see as intentional abuse is seen differently by the other person. We create a lot of pain for ourselves when we harbor resentment, attribute evil motives to the ones who hurt us, and assume we understand the whole picture. But there may be another viewpoint. There may be an explanation we’re unaware of. It COULD be that they intended to invite us but forgot, meant something different than the way it came out, or had no idea we’re hurt. When we assume we know the motives of other people, we set ourselves up for constant emotional pain. We assign evil to some situations that are not evil and create a bigger problem. Admitting that although the action was hurtful, the motive may not be what we think it is, positions us to move on. Mistreatment does not have to define us.
Final Thought: Some of what we call mistreatment may actually be misunderstanding or different perspectives.
Prayer: Father, have I created pain for myself by wrongly assigning evil motive to people’s actions? I don’t know anyone’s intentions. Only you do. Help me learn the difference between mistreatment and different perspectives. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Friday— When they heaped abuse on Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats, but entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:23
Let’s take a microscope to that verse. Read it again. Slowly. Now picture this: The Son of God stands there, hands bound with ropes that HE had made. He is being mocked by humans that HE had made, spit on with saliva glands that He had created. He knew with one word He could obliterate the entire city, but He “opened not His mouth” (Is. 53:7). It’s one thing to remain silent when there’s nothing you can do about your suffering. But it’s quite another when you know every second that a team of angelic warriors waits ready to deliver you—and you still say nothing. You take it. And take it. And take it until you’re dead.
That’s how Jesus handled mistreatment. He wasn’t a glutton for punishment; He knew God had a higher plan than his abusers could understand. If we back up to verse 21, Peter writes that we should follow Jesus’ example. If we are suffering for doing good, slandered for being faithful, mocked for being obedient to God, then we don’t need to defend ourselves. God will. And He does not need our rage or revenge. That just gets in His way. He has a higher purpose for our mistreatment when we suffer for His sake. He wastes nothing in the lives of His children, even mistreatment. We hand it to Him with tears on our cheeks. “I’m hurting, Father. You see what they did?” He takes it and smiles. “I can use this,” He says. “Watch what I do with it.”
Final Thought: No pain, no suffering, no tragedy is wasted in the lives of those who live for God and His glory.
Prayer: Father, you see what I’ve suffered, how hard it’s been to forgive. But I don’t want my rage and revenge to get in your way of bringing something good from this. So here it is, all of it. I trust that you will judge justly. In Jesus’ name, amen.