As a seminary student, I have to read a LOT of Bible. I mean, like, a whole book in the Old Testament a week kind of amount. This past week, that book happened to be Genesis. It took me four and a half hours but I got through it! And after talking about the virtue of patience at church this past Sunday, there was one instance in particular that stood out to me. In Genesis 29:20, it says, “So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.”
The crazy love story of Jacob and his two wives, Rachel and Leah, is commonly known to many church-goers alike. Jacob worked for seven years to marry the woman he fell in love with, Rachel, but her father tricked him into first marrying his eldest daughter, Leah. It was very Shakespeare-esqu–the classic bate-and-switch.
However, upon realizing that he had married and consummated his marriage with the wrong daughter, Jacob’s reaction was to work for ANOTHER seven years for Rachel. And not only was he willing to wait, he was willing to work. Today, 14 years of labor (even at a modest rate) would equal about $300,000. Jacob was willing to patiently and faithfully work for 14 years, giving his profits to a man who betrayed him, and with no bitterness.
That kind of patience is unfathomable to us today. Waiting is one thing, but to wait and have no bitterness and no profit (whether it be money, degrees, etc.) is a whole new level of patience.
Lucky for us, the Bible tells us Jacob’s secret. The reason he is able to be so patient and so generous in his patience is because he is acting out of love. Just like my husband is able to wait an extra 30 minutes every time we go out to dinner, or my dad is willing to be late for the movies for the sake of my snacks, they’re motivations to simply spend time together are in control. When we have “short fuses,” it means we’ve lost sight of what really matters. In moments of waiting, we need to keep in mind what we’re waiting for, which is ultimately the love of our heavenly Father. When our motivation is deeper love for one another, it’s actually worth waiting for.