Friday, January 30, 2015

Discontent can kill you

Genesis 30 is an interesting story full of competition, jealousy, and sex.  If you have read the story of Jacob, you know that he married two sisters.  (This was not a good idea then and it's not a good idea now.)  As it was bound to happen, Jacob loved one sister more than the other. (The fact that he was tricked into marrying one might have something to do with his feelings.) The Bible says God took pity on the one who was unloved and gave her sons--lots of sons.  
Now the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, and He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. (Gen. 29:31)  
Of course this drove Rachel crazy with jealousy so she "gave" her husband her handmaiden to sleep with. (Apparently surrogacy is not a modern concept.)  After the maid gave Jacob two more sons, Rachel said, “I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I have won." There are many wonderful reasons to have children, but competing with your sister is not one of them.  Although the babies were technically Rachel's, there was still a stigma attached to not being able to bear her own children and she longed for a son. When she finally gets pregnant after her husband has 6 sons from Leah, 2 from Rachel's maid Bilhah, and 2 from Leah's maid Zilpah (but who's counting), Rachel exclaims, "God has taken away my disgrace."  
Her long wait is over.  She has a son! Her heart's desire has been granted.  The thing that she most wanted in life is hers.  She should be happy right?  The child she prayed for is in her arms.  She should be content right?  
I know this because she named the baby Joseph which means "may he add" and then she said, "May the Lord add to me another son."  The birth of Joseph doesn't satisfy her, it only makes her want more.  Shame on Rachel for not being content.  
Shame on me.  
How many times do I desire more than I have?  How many times have I been dissatisfied with the life God has given me and wanted more?  How many times do I get one thing only to want something else?  
Rachel eventually got what she asked for, but it killed her.  She died giving birth to her second son Benjamin.  I'm not saying that she shouldn't have had Benjamin. I'm just saying that she should have enjoyed Joseph.

Another example of someone who let what he didn't have steal the joy of what he did have is Haman. If you read the book of Esther, you'll know that Haman is a bad guy.  For some reason the King elevated him above all the nobles, gave him a seat of honor and commanded all the officials to bow to him.  Haman was probably very smart and very rich (or perhaps just very manipulative.)  He was also very prideful.  There was one man who refused to bow down to him and that drove him crazy.  It made him so angry that he didn't want to kill just the one man (who was a Jew), but he wanted to kill the entire Jewish race.  He got the King to endorse his extermination plan, not knowing that the Queen was Jewish.  
Haman had everything he could ever want.  But when he saw Mordecai at the king’s gate and observed that he neither rose nor showed fear in his presence, he was filled with rage... Calling together his friends,  Haman boasted to them about his vast wealth, his many sons, and all the ways the king had honored him and how he had elevated him above the other nobles and officials... "But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.
Haman bragged about what he had, but said NONE OF IT MATTERED as long as Mordecai refused to honor him.  Shame on Haman for being discontent.
Shame on me.
Yet all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I...
I struggle against this when I fail to be content with what I have and instead focus on what I don't have. If I think I can't be happy without Anna, then I can never be happy.  How would you fill in the blank? What is it that you don't have that is keeping you from enjoying what you do have?  What are you so focused on getting that you fail to see what is in front of you? Can you enjoy what you have even if you never get... that promotion, that boyfriend, that car, that house, that job, that dress, that part in the play, that award, that recognition, that vacation, that WHATEVER.
Haman's discontent led to his downfall and his death when he was hung on the gallows he built for Mordecai. 
Discontent probably won't kill you like Rachel and Haman, but you will be miserable. It is possible to live a long discontent life... but why?