It Took 4 Sons
Every one of us processes things in this life differently. How each one of us process those things is greatly affected by the meaning that we assign to any given situation or information. In other words take any given situation, especially a stressful one, and you’ll find that each person will react, come through, and process that a little differently. Many wonder why it is that multiple people experience the same situation and yet have different responses. Each one of us have our own circumstances, perspectives at that particular time in our lives that affects what meaning we assign to the information and situation and thus affects how we process it and deal with it.
There is a great example of someone who was going through a very difficult time in their life and they were literally assigning meaning to their circumstances. What that meaning was changed over time and led to assigning the right meaning to the right person. The person that we just referenced is Leah in Genesis 29 as she gives birth to the first four sons of Jacob.
“When the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, "Because the LORD has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me." She conceived again and bore a son, and said, "Because the LORD has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also." And she called his name Simeon. Again she conceived and bore a son, and said, "Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons." Therefore his name was called Levi. And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, "This time I will praise the LORD." Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she ceased bearing.” (Gen 29:31-35)
It Took 4 Sons
Reuben – “See, a son” – “Because the Lord has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me.” (v.32) You can see from her response and the meaning she assigned to this child is that she seems to be focused on her hardship rather than the great blessing from the Lord to not only bear a son but the first son to Jacob.
Simeon – “heard” – “Because the Lord has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also.” (v.33) We can see from her response and the meaning she assigned to this child is that she seems to be focused on others, what they think of her and how they are treating her.
Levi – “attached” – “Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” (v.34) We can see from her response and the meaning she assigned to this child is that she seems to be focused on accomplishment.
Judah – “praise” – “This time I will praise the Lord.” (v.35) It’s here that we can see a shift in her thinking, her reasoning, and in her faith. With this child the meaning that she assigns and focus she has is on the Lord.
There are so many blessings that we recognize from our God. From children, health, jobs, homes, food, clothing, and so on. The question is what meaning do we assign to our blessings, our possessions, our gifts? Scripture gives us plenty of examples of those who assigned the wrong meaning to those kinds of things. Some examples are the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12, the rich young ruler in Matthew 19, and even our everyday provisions in Matthew 6.
I think we can see that often the meaning we assign the things in this life are also affected by hardships, focus on others, accomplishments and even competition. Genesis 30 reveals that Leah and Rachel went on to continue to compete with one another and went about having their children their own way by giving Jacob their servants Bilhah and Zilpah.
The question for us is how many does it take for us to assign the right meaning, in the right way, to the right person with all the things pertaining to this life? How many years will it take? How many blessings? How many children? How many possessions? How many disappointments? How many…?
I personally there is ample evidence with in Ecclesiastes that points toward Solomon as the author. With that in mind remember what young Solomon said to the Lord in 1 Kings 3: “…although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in…give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil…” (v.7-9) The Lord responded and not only gave him wisdom that none would be able to possess or surpass but he also gave him honor and riches like none before him and none after him would ever achieve. (v.12-13)
The Lord gave this one man the wisdom and ability to acquire all the resources it would take to fully pursue everything that this life here on earth could possibly offer. He was able to have everything one could possibly want in the quantities that we can’t probably even imagine. He was able to see everything that one could desire to see. After weighing all of that in his mind the meaning he assigned to all things is simple and powerful. “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)
No matter what we face, by God’s grace we can grow to trust in God more and learn to assign more God-defined meaning to the things that I have, the things I don’t have, the things I experience with joy, and the things that I even suffer.