Read Genesis 29:15-28
As often happens, the story of God’s people reads more like a soap opera than holy history. It is fitting that we begin our week together witnessing some of the best and worst of human behavior because God meets us in these and all circumstances.
How can we not admire Jacob’s devoted love for Rachel—a love that works hard and waits patiently for seven years to be together with his beloved? We all desire that kind of devotion from another human being.
We also recognize the scheming of someone like Laban. Many people take advantage of others’ best intentions. Whether Laban’s trickery is born out of compassion for his older daughter or of simple greed, he uses Jacob’s love for Rachel to create an opportunity for himself.
And how do we explain the oddest part of the story? Veil or no veil, it seems Jacob should have recognized the woman he has desired for so many years. Perhaps a little overindulgence at the celebration left Jacob vulnerable to Laban’s scheme.
Jacob’s love prevails but not with a happy ending. The years that follow bring growing animosity between Rachel and Leah, which fills their home with conflict, struggle for acceptance, and competition for attention.
Humans, with their mixed motives, make for messy love. Relationships with people we believe we can trust sometimes turn sour. Perhaps you can recall moments in your life that have been tainted by jealousy, deceit, or broken dreams.
It is in this messy world that God meets us. When we are untrustworthy, God is true. When we are impatient, God is long-suffering. When we experience disappointment, God brings hope. When human love fails, God’s love prevails.
Redeeming God, my ability to love is imperfect. Fill me with your Spirit that I may grow closer to your example of perfect love. Amen.
Peter Velander is executive director for strategic initiatives at Upper Room Ministries. He is a member of Trinity Lutheran Church, Bellevue, Tennessee.