Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

January 25, 2015


Handling life’s disappointments


        If you enjoy love stories you can find some good ones in the Bible. One of the best is the story of Jacob’s love for Rachel.

The Book of Genesis reveals that Jacob loved Rachel so much he was willing to work for her father for seven years to earn her hand in marriage. And the seven years “seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.” What an amazing love!

        After Jacob had tended Laban’s sheep for seven long years the wedding feast was arranged. After a lot of eating and drinking Jacob’s wish came true. Rachel, the woman of his dreams, was his wife. He took her to the marriage bed and slept with her. But imagine his surprise the next morning when he discovered that the woman he had slept with was not Rachel but her older sister Leah. Talk about life’s disappointments!

        I have a lot of questions about Jacob’s first night as a married man. How did Laban substitute Leah for Rachel? Was the bride’s face covered with a veil during the wedding ceremony? And did she continue to wear that veil even when she went to bed with Jacob? Was Jacob so drunk that he could not recognize his bride?

Though there were no electric lights back then surely somebody would have rubbed some sticks together and lit up a lightwood knot or an oil lamp. Was there not a little moonlight? How veiled would a bride have to be for her husband not to recognize the face behind the veil?

Imagine the shock when Jacob and Leah awoke the next morning! Jacob stared at Leah with unbelievable disappointment. But what pain the look on Jacob’s face must have caused Leah. She probably remembered that look the rest of her life. Rejection can sear our souls like a knife.

The struggle between Jacob and Leah lasted a lifetime. There is no indication that Jacob ever felt any remorse for his refusal to love Leah. Even the sons she bore him did not evoke from Jacob the milk of human kindness. All her days Leah had to settle for being her husband’s property rather than the beloved mother of his children.

Rachel endured the disappointment of being treated like a pawn by her father. She had looked forward to becoming Jacob’s wife only to have Laban make her wait while he used her for his own benefit.

This love story highlights one of life’s major challenges – how to handle disappointments. Disappointments come to us all. Some are mild; others are shattering. To live well we must learn to handle our disappointments.

When we are young we have great expectations. Our dreams inspire us to think big. Then bubbles burst, one after another. Realism sets in. Adjustments have to be made. Life is filled with misfortune. Some setbacks result from our own misdoing. Others occur because of accidents or the misdeeds of persons we may not even know. Examples abound.

A woman struggled for years with infertility. Unable to have a child of her own she adopted a child. She spurned feelings of bitterness and embraced an alternative route to the joy of motherhood.

A young man dreamed of going to college. Then his father died. His mother was an invalid, unable to work. Being the oldest child, he got a job to support the family. He skipped college and kept working so his three siblings could attend college. Years later he is taking college courses online, hoping one day to finally earn his college degree.

Two men pooled their resources and started a business. All went well until one man learned his partner had swindled him of his share of the business. He had to start over from scratch. Wisely he cast off the burden of resentment and forgave his former partner. He revised his vision of the future.

In facing disappointments we can discover that we are not alone. Believe that God is with you and you are on the way back up. Restoration has begun when you affirm that God’s very name is Emmanuel – God with us! This is why the gospel is such good news. While God allows us to suffer disappointments, he does not forsake us. He walks with us, encouraging us to learn and grow and become better people.

God helps us through the Bible. In the throes of disappointment we may turn to a Bible verse like Proverbs 13:12 and let God “restore our souls” with words like these: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

Crushed and depressed by some disappointment, we turn to the Psalms and our hope is renewed as the Spirit speaks to our need. New resolve springs up in our hearts as we read: "Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken” (Psalm 62:5-6).

But the greatest help available to us is Jesus! A solid relationship with Jesus can break the paralyzing grip of disappointment. That’s because he specializes in mending broken dreams. He stands beside us in the ashes of defeat and shows us the way to a new day. He puts broken pieces back together.

No matter how great our disappointments may be, we can affirm with Saint Paul that NOTHING “will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39). Sure of that, we can arise and make a new beginning!

Disappointments need not defeat us; they can be become the doorway to victorious living.  + + +