• Joanne Delanoy

Functional dysfunction

Have you ever felt that you were too messed up for God to use in a purposeful way? Maybe you have a past of poor choices or come from a family that can be deemed dysfunctional at best, and you wonder how could God ever use this? Do you compare yourself to the heroes in the Bible and feel like you can never measure up? It is so easy to take the few lines of text that you read in the Bible and be in awe at the patience, obedience, strength, wisdom, and faith that the pioneers of our faith had; then, either consciously or subconsciously, compare yourself to them and feel like your life does not make that much of a difference. This can leave you asking the question, “Does what I do really matter?”

To answer that we could use any number of examples from the Bible, but we will look at the life of Leah found in Genesis 29 and 30. To summarize, Rachel and Leah were daughters of Laban. Jacob was in love with Rachel and worked seven years for Laban in order to marry her. On the night of the wedding, Laban deceived Jacob and substituted Leah for Rachel, then later used the excuse that the younger daughter could not marry before the older daughter. So, Jacob agreed to work another seven years to be able to marry Rachel also. In Genesis 29:30 it tells us that Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah. It goes on to say in verse 31, “When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless.”

This story that we read about in a couple of pages represents years of jealousy, bitterness, resentment, competition, anger, chaos, and conflict. The sisters were constantly competing for the affection of their husband and even went so far as to give their servants to their husband to bear children. This was an extremely dysfunctional family! All of this dysfunction carried down through the children, breeding a hatred that resulted in the older brothers wanting to kill their younger brother, Joseph. In the end, they sold him into slavery rather than killing him (Genesis 37), but that is another huge story of its own. While this family was living through years of conflict, jealousy, heartache, and anger they had no idea that God was using them to start the 12 tribes of Israel, and that through one of those tribes, the tribe of Judah, would come the Savior of the world!

An interesting side note: Leah named their first 3 sons based on the hope that her husband would now love her—based on her feelings. Her fourth son she named out of gratitude and praise to God—the fourth son was Judah. God used a woman who was unloved yet still praised the Lord as the lineage of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Whatever mess or dysfunction you may be in the middle of is exactly what God will use in a mighty way to change the world—now and for future generations! Your story is part of His story. God uses our chaos and dysfunction for a purpose greater than ourselves. And it is through the seemingly forgotten, rejected, unloved and unqualified that God brings the greatest glory. Abraham and Sarah were old when they conceived; Jacob was run off by his own sin and later feared his brother’s rejection; Leah was unloved; Joseph was hated and sold by his brothers; Moses asked God to send somebody else because he believed he was not good enough (Exodus 4:13); David was not considered worthy of mention by his father when Samuel was looking for the new king to anoint (1 Samuel 16); Mary would have been rejected by society for being pregnant out of wedlock; and even Jesus was rejected by His family and His own community. But in each case, it took one act of obedience—one choice to surrender to the Lord—to change the course of history.

God has a plan and a purpose for you that is bigger than you can imagine! And that plan does not wait until you have your life cleaned up and made into a nice, neat package—it works amidst the chaos and dysfunction of your everyday life. All He requires is for you to say “Yes,” or as Mary said, “Here I am, the Lord’s humble servant. As you have said, let it be done to me.” Luke 1:38 [VOICE]


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