Friday, February 27, 2015

Learning from Your Hurts: The Story of Leah

The story of Leah, Jacob’s first wife, was a thought-provoking subject in order to uncover the best
approach to deal and overcome hurts and pains brought about by personal and external factors (Genesis 29:16-30). Here are three things that I found interesting and helpful on how people typically deal with hurts and discouragements in their lives:
a)    They deny to the bones – “That didn’t hurt me. I’m not mad.”
b)   They will delay until the right moment of retaliation – “I’ll deal with that later. I don’t get mad I get even.”
c)    They will try to minimize the emotions and restrained their emotions to the maximum possibility in keeping it – “It’s no big deal. It didn’t hurt so bad.”

William Ward wrote in Today in the Word (April, 1989, p. 18) about discouragement and defined it this way: Discouragement is dissatisfaction with the past, distaste for the present, and distrust of the future. It is ingratitude for the blessings of yesterday, indifference to the opportunities of today, and insecurity regarding strength for tomorrow. It is unawareness of the presence of beauty, unconcern for the needs of our fellowman, and unbelief in the promises of old. It is impatience with time, immaturity of thought, and impoliteness to God.

How about you folks? What’s your typical style of dealing with hurts and discouragements that come in your life? In looking at Leah’s story, we can glean pivotal life lessons from how she handled every hurt and discouragement in her life. To begin with, Leah wasn’t much to look at and by observing closely the biblical account of her life; she looked differently from her beautiful sister Rachel and was fully aware of it. Next, she was always in second place, inferior and not shown much affection, even though she was first born. And to make matters worse, she got married through deceit and not loved by Jacob at all, having been forced to become her husband due to family customs. However, Leah rose above this personal dilemma, maybe through self-talk or by just knowing she was loved by her God. In addition, the most important event that happened to Leah that no one can ever be taken away from her is the fact that from her offspring—Judah (Genesis 49:10), came the Ancient of Days – Jesus Christ. Wow! Imagine that out of the unloved, the second rate and the ugly came the Savior of the world!

So what can we learn from Leah’s experiences in today’s world? Here are some tips: (a) genuine encouragement must be obtained from God because when you learn from your hurts, others will be encouraged; (b) rising up to the next level of perspective must occur because when you learn from your hurts, you will go to another level; (c) faith level will increase when God is involved because when you learn from your hurts, your faith will increase; (d) others will be influenced by your testimony because when you learn from your hurts, your testimony will become alive. G.K. Chesterton provided clarity in this matter:  “Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all. As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength.”

What's the bottom line here? There is absolutely no way to avoid getting hurt or discouraged. They will come, but the issue is to respond appropriately. In this matter, we can choose to internalize the hurts and become resentful or we can choose to strike back and worsen the situation. But the best resolution is always to forgive! Ultimately, the choice is ours to make. Let’s imitate Leah when she yielded everything to God and in doing so, she was never the same again. And in all of the things that she went through, they were exactly what made Leah to be an excellent example to be emulated by God’s people today. Most importantly, God’s hand and favor believed upon her and that’s all that I mattered to her at the time when she confirmed it many times.

After everything is said and done, it is noteworthy to consider that God responded to people in need and He will always provide the timely help and strength to endure all challenges at hand. And here’s something to think about as we tread along our journey in life: When you have nothing left but God, then you become aware that God is enough. ~Maude Royden.

Let's talk again soon!