Genesis 29 : 20-21; 23, 25-27; 30-31
So Jacob worked seven years to pay for Rachel. But his love for her was so strong that it seemed to him but a few days.
Finally, the time came for him to marry her. “I have fulfilled my agreement,” Jacob said to Laban. “Now give me my wife so I can sleep with her.”
But that night, when it was dark, Laban took Leah to Jacob, and he slept with her.
But when Jacob woke up in the morning—it was Leah! “What have you done to me?” Jacob raged at Laban. “I worked seven years for Rachel! Why have you tricked me?”
“It’s not our custom here to marry off a younger daughter ahead of the firstborn,” Laban replied. “But wait until the bridal week is over; then we’ll give you Rachel, too—provided you promise to work another seven years for me.”
So Jacob slept with Rachel, too, and he loved her much more than Leah. He then stayed and worked for Laban the additional seven years.
When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, he enabled her to have children, but Rachel could not conceive.
Genesis 30 : 1-13; 17-24
When Rachel saw that she wasn’t having any children for Jacob, she became jealous of her sister. She pleaded with Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!”
Then Jacob became furious with Rachel. “Am I God?” he asked. “He’s the one who has kept you from having children!”
Then Rachel told him, “Take my maid, Bilhah, and sleep with her. She will bear children for me, and through her I can have a family, too.” So Rachel gave her servant, Bilhah, to Jacob as a wife, and he slept with her. Bilhah became pregnant and presented him with a son. Rachel named him Dan, for she said, “God has vindicated me! He has heard my request and given me a son.” Then Bilhah became pregnant again and gave Jacob a second son. Rachel named him Naphtali, for she said, “I have struggled hard with my sister, and I’m winning!”
Meanwhile, Leah realized that she wasn’t getting pregnant anymore, so she took her servant, Zilpah, and gave her to Jacob as a wife. Soon Zilpah presented him with a son. Leah named him Gad, for she said, “How fortunate I am!” Then Zilpah gave Jacob a second son. And Leah named him Asher, for she said, “What joy is mine! Now the other women will celebrate with me.”
And God answered Leah’s prayers. She became pregnant again and gave birth to a fifth son for Jacob. She named him Issachar, for she said, “God has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband as a wife.” Then Leah became pregnant again and gave birth to a sixth son for Jacob. She named him Zebulun, for she said, “God has given me a good reward. Now my husband will treat me with respect, for I have given him six sons.” Later she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah.
Then God remembered Rachel’s plight and answered her prayers by enabling her to have children. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son. “God has removed my disgrace,” she said. And she named him Joseph, for she said, “May the Lord add yet another son to my family.”
Rachel’s story began like many young ladies’ dreams. A handsome stranger from afar comes and sweeps her off her feet, willing to do anything to earn her love. He asks her father for her hand in marriage and is willing to pay any price, even 7 long years of work, to earn the privilege of marrying her. How excited Rachel must have been to see her Prince Charming every day as he worked to earn the right to marry her. I bet they smiled & flirted with one another as they passed each other in her father’s fields, barely noticing the years passing by. For 7 years she likely planned and dreamed about her wedding day – her happily ever after. She had her Pinterest board all laid out with things she had been collecting her whole life as she carefully pieced together every detail of her special day. You almost think you are embarking on a fairy tale that begins with “Once upon a time..” and will one day close with “and they lived happily ever after.”
Sadly, we see Rachel’s fairy tale take a nosedive on what was to be the best day of her life. Jacob ended up on the receiving end of deceit as Laban brought Rachel’s sister Leah, instead of Rachel, to Jacob on his wedding night. I can’t help wondering if this might be a consequence of Jacob’s trickery years earlier? (See Genesis 27:1 – 45) Could this be just one example of how our sin can affect others & how sin’s consequences follow us long after its pleasures have passed? Well, that’s a discussion for another devotion, another day. Needless to say, I can imagine Rachel’s dismay when her father tells her, “Sorry, baby, today is NOT your day!” I have heard of being left at the altar, but replaced at the altar?
While Laban allows Jacob to eventually marry Rachel too, we see these sisters, who likely loved each other and had shared life and secrets as they grew up, now become entrenched in a Battle of the Brides (or maybe more aptly described, Battle for the Babies!) While Rachel was “shapely & beautiful” and clearly Jacob’s first choice, she was now forced to share the love of her life with her sister. And as if this wasn’t bad enough, Rachel also had problems conceiving which led her into a downward spiral of despair where she likely decided God had simply forgotten her. Much like we do when we are trying to create and correct things in our life, Rachel tried to take matters into her own hands by offering her maidservant to Jacob but quickly realized this didn’t help her situation and, in fact, made things worse.
And then, we come to one of my favorite phrases in the Bible…..BUT GOD. Genesis 30:22 says, “But God remembered Rachel.” Sometimes God allows us to try and fix our own messes. He gives us the reins and says, “have at it”. That way, when He steps in and redeems our situation, there is no question about who should get the glory.
As I meditated over Rachel’s story the last few weeks preparing this devotion, I saw so much of my own life in Rachel’s messy mix-up. I sit on the “other side” of 2 failed marriages, never having achieved my desire to have children, and sometimes feeling forgotten by God. I’ve tried to create what I wanted in my life, fix my own messes only to make it an even bigger mess, tried to win the affection of another using less than Godly tactics, placed my worth in things (children in Rachel’s case) that were not God, and the list goes on. However, my story doesn’t end there and, if your life didn’t turn out the way you planned, neither does yours. Trusting God when nothing seems to be happening is difficult. But it is harder still to live with the consequences of taking matters into your own hands. Resist the temptation to think God has forgotten you. Have patience and courage to wait for God to act. We will have our “But God” moments too, if we cry out to Him, surrender our lives to Him and let God lead us to His best for us. Our lives may not be exactly what we had envisioned for ourselves, but God can use them for His story & His glory. If you are feeling forgotten or alone, let that lead you to the foot of the cross where you will find redemption and love. Let God turn your mess into His message, your test into His testimony. His plans are ALWAYS for your good and He can create beauty out of ashes. He sees you. He is for you and not against you. He remembers you.
Gracious & loving Lord,
We thank you today that you have promised never to leave us or abandon us (Hebrews 13:5), even when we are walking in a way that is so far off the path You have laid out for us. Thank You for your unending patience with us and Your desire to redeem our stories again & again. Thank You for showing us that Your love is freely given, not earned. It is just like Satan to make us think we are not enough but just like You to promise us You ARE enough and with Jesus, we too are enough. Let us not look to anything or anyone else for our worth and keep our eyes fixed on You (Hebrews 12:2). Help us to live life fully, in the freedom of knowing we are loved by You & if that’s all we have, we can rest assured that’s all we need.
In Your Holy & Precious name,
Genesis 29 – 35
Cyndi traveled a long & broken road that led to the heart of her Savior and is grateful God can use her tattered past in His story. God has placed in Cyndi a heart for sharing the love of Jesus both locally and globally and she has traveled to the Philippine’s (3 times), India (2 times), Thailand & Myanmar to let people in some of the most remote regions of the world know that God is Crazy about them. In her spare time, she enjoys practicing, performing & teaching aerial silks, hammock & hoop, traveling, writing devotionals, and date nights with her main (feline) man Harley. Most weekends you will find Cyndi enjoying Saturday night service at the Clermont Campus.