Sometimes, people can feel like a hostage in their own home. Those who are may ask, “How am I ever going to break free?” Throughout history, many have found themselves trapped in a bad marriage and wondered how or if they could ever get out of their marital mess.
For some, the problem lies not with their marriage, but with the family attached to it. It’s one thing if you only have to deal with your in-laws on their annual Thanksgiving visit. As obnoxious as your father-in-law may be or as much control as your mother-in-law may attempt to assert over your spouse, you can muster up the strength to get through a four-day weekend with them. But, it’s a totally different scenario if your daily life is directly tied to them. What if you have to live under the same roof with these same in-laws? Or worse yet, what if you’re in business with them? How would you like your financial future to be tied to people you neither trust, nor respect?
If you’ve got a terrible father-in-law or mother-in-law, you’ve probably voiced your feelings to those closest to you. For starters, you’ve certainly given your spouse an earful. But, it often doesn’t end there. You’ve probably broadcast your frustrations to your parents, siblings or best friend.
With the advent of the internet, people can let the whole world know just what they think about their in-laws. It probably won’t surpise you that I found a blog where people have posted horror stories about their terrible in-laws. Here’s one woman’s story….
“I got married a little over two years ago. My husband was living in a home that he purchased with his father. He felt obligated to stay (financially) until we could sell the house, split the profits, and go our separate ways. We were thinking one year at the most. Well, two years later, here we still all are. The economy went down [and] my FIL lost his job… [He] still doesn't have one going on two years. [Now, we’re under water] on this house….My FIL is a total jerk. My husband recently got custody of his 10 year old son and [my] FIL treats him like garbage, bordering on abuse in my opinion. My husband says he can't leave his dad to be on his own with nobody to turn to…I understand that, but what about me? I am 5 months pregnant now. I can't decorate a nursery for my first child because we don't have the room. We are now paying ALL of the bills in the house. I don't want my child around this man. My husband feels there is no way out and so do I. Everyday is torture whenever I hear his voice. I hate everything about him and I'm stuck in this…life…This should be a happy time for me, but I have to sit here and cry and vent to strangers instead. Oh God, please help me, I'm so depressed....”
As we turn to Genesis 31, Jacob could certainly feel this woman’s pain. As bad as this woman’s father-in-law may be, he doesn’t hold a candle to Jacob’s. When Jacob first met Laban, he was wet behind the ears. So, like any dirty rotten scoundrel, Laban took full advantage of Jacob. For the last 20 years, Laban has held Jacob hostage in his own home. At every turn, Laban has cheated and abused Jacob. Yet, Jacob has managed to grow a successful business in spite of his father-in-law’s ever-changing financial terms. As a result, the tension between them has escalated. Like any hostage, Jacob yearns to break free….
This article is an excerpt from my sermon series in Genesis. All are welcome to join us for worship this Sunday at 10:30 am. Lighthouse Community Baptist Church is located at 22 Pequot Trail in Pawcatuck.