Summary: God is at work in and through our lives despite our dysfunction.

Title: And You Think Your Family Is Messed Up! (Part II)

Text: Genesis 29:15-30

Thesis: God is at work in and through our lives despite our dysfunction.


I have a method to reading the Denver Post every day. I separate the sections removing all the ads. I begin with the Editorial page then move to the front section making my way through the Denver and West, the Business and National News sections. I then move to the Living section turning to the last page where I read Ask Amy. (Then I read the comics and work the puzzles. Then I read the Sports section.)

Amy Dickinson of Ask Amy gets lots of head-shaking mail.

• Dear Amy: My daughter is almost 4 months old, and I feel as though my in-laws don’t love her as much as they do her male cousin who is 2…

• Dear Amy: My mother raised 12 children. None of us asked her to baby-sit our children, as we felt her work was done. My daughter-in-law has now asked me to watch her 2-month-old on a specific day because she has to work. I told her, “Yes, but when you are making money, I will charge you.” She sent me an email expressing her disbelief and letting me know her mother would never charge for to baby-sit.”

• Dear Amy: My older sister is getting married. Her fiancé and his family are a very Christian conservative family. I am gay so my sister sent me an email telling me she did not think I should attend her wedding. When my mother found out she was outraged and now my family will not attend my sister’s wedding.

A common thread in most Dear Amy letters is family dysfunction. There is an undercurrent of perceived personal slights, insults, the absence of moral character, perceived injustices and unfairness and the like. The saga of Jacob is one of dysfunction and unfairness.

Last week we saw: God is present and at work in our messed-upness ( I know. Not a word but you get the idea.) and culture does not deter God

A third take away is the often needed reminder that life is not always fair.

III. Life is not fair

When Jacob woke up in the morning, it was Leah! “What have you done to me?” Jacob raged at Laban. Genesis 29:25a

Seven years passed and having struck a deal for his arranged marriage to Rachel, Jacob reminded Laban of their agreement and Uncle Laban threw a big wedding feast after which it was apparently the custom of the father to deliver the bride to the groom’s tent for the consummation of the wedding.

So as Jacob waited expectantly in the darkness as Laban brought him his bride.

The next morning when Jacob woke up he was shocked to discover he had married the older sister, Leah, rather than Rachel. Jacob was obviously unhappy and raised a ruckus with his new father-in-law who informed him that culturally, the younger daughter could not be married before her older sister so essentially tradition trumped the details of the agreement. So to appease Jacob Laban suggested he work an additional 7 years for Rachel… however in this agreement he would receive Rachel as his bride up-front rather than at the end of 7 more years.

Life is not fair!

A. Life was not fair to Leah. She was not as pretty as her younger sister. Everyone could see it in her eyes. She was less desirable and would not fetch the dowry price of her younger, prettier sister. And then her humiliation had to have gone off the charts when Jacob was so disappointed and angry when he realized he had married her.

B. Life was unfair to Jacob. He had struck an honest bargain for Rachel’s hand not Leah’s. If he had known the custom was to marry off the older daughter first he would never have made that agreement. He would not have so gladly worked away 7 years of hard labor in anticipation waking up with Leah at his side.,

C. Life may be unfair to us as well… Some men are handsome and some men, not so much. Some women are beautiful and some women, not so much. Some people have higher IQs than others. Some people have more emotional intelligence than others… especially those who have higher IQs. Some people are athletes and some trip over their shoe laces.

I was amused to hear a young couple commenting about their family to the effect that they were raising a family of nerds. The stereotype of nerds and geeks implies shy, quirky, unattractive people who are social misfits. However they were simply saying they wanted their children to be inquisitive, creative, and well-adjusted individuals. Some parents love involving their children in athletics. Some parents are big into creating little “Honey Boo Boos” and future NFL Cheerleaders.

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