Hard Work, Low Pay, Miserable Conditions. This was the slogan of the CCC (California Conservation Corps) in the 80's when I signed up. At twenty years of age, no direction in life, and a love for the outdoors, somehow it appealed to me. By the way, I just took a peek at their website. The slogan remains the same except that they've added "and more" at the end. I wonder what "more" could possibly be?
Jacob experienced his share of hard work, low pay and miserable conditions. In recounting his time of toil to his father-in-law Laban he states, "This was my situation: The heat consumed me in the daytime and the cold at night, and sleep fled from my eyes. It was like this for the twenty years I was in your household. I worked for you fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flocks, and you changed my wages ten times...." - Genesis 31:40-41
Jacob the deceiver had finally met his match in the person of Laban. Laban treated him unfairly, squeezing as much as he could possibly get out of his son-in-law. It seems that that Jacob needed to have this experience of hard work under cruel conditions for his own personal growth and maturity.
Nevertheless, God's favor and blessing was upon Jacob. With the exception of some jealousy and rivalry between his wives, Jacob prospered, revealing that God's hand was clearly upon him. I've read this story many times, but this time I noticed something different - a connection between hardship and blessing, perseverance and reward. God's blessing often comes as a result of years of difficulty, enabling us not merely to survive, but to thrive in the furnace of testing. In the process He works on our character and disciplines us when needed, as He did with Jacob, until we have the capacity to be faithful stewards of that which He entrusts to us. And ultimately we are rewarded for our faithfulness.
As Jacob processes his long and often difficult history with Laban, he continued, "But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands..." (Genesis 31:42). I'm thankful that we can know God's favor in the midst of challenging times. Whatever we might go through - hard work, low pay, miserable conditions - these can become opportunities to experience God in deeper ways. Today, I choose to lift my eyes to a God who is able to leverage my present circumstances to fulfill His greater purposes.
For Reflection: "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." - Genesis 50:20