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loans, medical bills and basic operational   who, Jacob noted to his wives, “cheated
        expenses compound quickly. Tragic or   me and changed my wages ten times”
        catastrophic events can erase decades of   (Gen 31:7  ESV). Jacob, who seemed to
        wise investments. The Bible assures us that   remember every day and each long night,
        treasures on earth can be lost suddenly.   recounted with vivid detail the exhausting
        Debt can quickly grip the old or young,   toil and burdensome responsibility felt
        single or married, and even the wise and   as he worked to “pay off” his debt with
        foolish.                             apparently hidden fees and variable rates.
          The widow in 2 Kings 4, bereaved of her   Jacob had been quick to trick his family
        God-fearing husband, was found in very   for blessing but now dutifully served
        difficult circumstances. The term was up   the full years for Laban plus six. In the
        and the creditor had come to collect. He   end, he appreciated that God was with
        would not leave empty handed. Debt can   him through it all, and that “God hath
        force people to do anything to alleviate or   seen mine affliction and the labour of my
        reduce the debt. For her, to default was   hands” (31:42).
        unthinkable – lose her sons into slavery.   Some can empathize with the presumably
        The pressure was surely unbearable. It was   young man in II Kings 6. Here was another
        her cry that began the chapter, and it was   faithful prophet working with others to
        this cry that reached Elisha. He responded   expand their residence. While chopping a
        with a workable plan using what she had   tree near the flood-prone Jordan River, the
        available to pay off the debt. From a pot   ax head he was using fell into the water and
        of oil, which God miraculously sustained,   was lost. The laboring prophet, who sought
        she filled many empty pots. Selling this   to help with borrowed equipment, felt the
        abundant stock, she was told to pay her   instantaneous weight and anxiety of the
        debt and live off the rest. God delivered   irrecoverable loss. His cry, “Alas, master!
        the oil, and she and her sons delivered the   for it was borrowed” (v5), expressed the
        vessels. Working together, the family was   heart’s cry of one who now realized a debt
        preserved.                           and obligation to the lender. Once again,
          While it wasn’t a traditional loan, Jacob   Elisha answered this cry and the ax head
        certainly knew the burden, obligations and   miraculously swam and was recovered. In
        emotional toll of working off debt. After   all three examples, the hand of God and the
        leaving home and falling in love, Jacob   human hand are seen working to recover
        was willing and wise to “pay in advance,”   the losses.
        working seven years before receiving his   Many feel the death grip of debt today.
        bride and committing to marriage. But   And while causes vary, God does hear the
        then he was the one deceived as Laban   widow’s cry and knows the workman’s
        switched daughters under the wedding   plight. The same man who wrote “Owe no
        veil. To capitalize more from Jacob’s love   man any thing, but to love one another”
        for Rachel, Laban did give him Rachel too,   (Rom 13:8) offered to pay any arrears, even
        but obligated him to another seven years   if through theft, that the slave Onesimus
        of labor. This time Jacob was paying post-  may  have owed Philemon.  The  only
        possession, and felt the frustration and   perpetual debt Paul envisions for believers
        burden of owing time and labor to another.   is the love that should be continually paid
        Laban was also a duplicitous creditor   to one another.

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