The story of Jacob, Rachel and Leah is full of sadness, something that many of us can relate to. Steph reminds us that just like with Rachel, God has a plan.
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Rachel – Leah’s Sister
Last time we discussed Leah’s story. Today, let’s focus on her younger sister Rachel. Her story includes the elements of a fairy tale romance—at least at first.
A mysterious stranger travels from a distant land. Their paths cross, seemingly by coincidence. The stranger fall head over heels in love with her from the moment they meet. He agrees to work for her father for seven years for the privilege of making her his wife. And after those seven years, Rachel’s sister Leah becomes a major character in the story.
Unlike Rachel, Leah was not attractive. Their father tricked Jacob into making her his wife. While Jacob honoured his commitment, he didn’t love her. In fact, verse 31 of Genesis 29 says she was hated. Does this mean exactly what it would today? It doesn’t really matter. It’s enough to know that she knew she’d always have second place in her husband’s eyes.
Yet, the Lord saw Leah’s situation and had compassion on her. He enabled her to conceive four sons to carry on the family line, and that was vitally important in that day and age, far more so than in most cultures today.
Although Jacob loved Rachel dearly—he was willing to work for her father for 14 years in total in exchange for her hand in marriage—she was unable to conceive. That wasn’t the end of her quest to give Jacob children however.
Like Jacob’s grandmother before her, she sought to give her husband children by having him sleep with her servant. And thus, the rivalry between her and her sister escalated.
Leah. Rachel’s servant. Leah’s servant. And finally, Rachel herself. These women all gave birth to Jacob’s children.
This story has gone from being a fairy tale to a high stakes drama. And I haven’t even included all that was happening with Laban, Rachel and Leah’s father.
Is there any way Rachel was just like us? Is there anything we can learn from her story that’s applicable to our lives?
I’d say yes and yes.
Have we ever been tricked into giving up something precious to us, not likely a husband, but something—or someone—else?
Have we ever been betrayed?
Have we ever been ended up as rivals with someone close to us?
Have we ever been discontent even though we were abundantly blessed?
Have things ever spun out of control as we continued to try to control the situation rather than surrendering it to the Lord?
We may not be able to say yes to all these questions—at least not to the degree Rachel could have—but I’m sure we can all relate to her in some ways.
Learning From Rachel
What can we learn from Rachel’s story?
Trickery and betrayal destroy relationships. And there is no justification for it no matter how many excuses we come up with. Both Laban and Leah had their reasons for doing what they did, but it led to years of heartache and pain for many people
Rachel had every right to be angry and upset with her father and sister. I know I would have been. However, I was just reading Matthew 5. In verse 44, the Lord Jesus says we are to “love [our] enemies and pray for those who persecute [us]” (ESV).
Thinking About Forgiveness
I wonder what this kind of forgiveness would have looked like in Rachel’s life—and in ours.
What if, instead of being rivals, Rachel and Leah worked on their relationship? Considering what had transpired and the cycle they fell into, that really does seem like a possibility only in a fairy tale. Thankfully, what God can accomplish in and through us far surpasses any fiction story. He can restore the most unlikely individuals and the most decimated relationships.
That was not to be the case in these sisters’ lives however. And when Leah was blessed with children, Jacob’s love and devotion was not enough to satisfy Rachel. There isn’t one of us who can’t relate to her irrational accusation that it was Jacob’s fault that she couldn’t have children. I’m certain we’ve all accused others of something that wasn’t their fault.
Goals Without God
And we can all relate to pursuing our goals without first consulting God and asking that He work things out according to His plans and purposes. Even after years of being a Christian, I’m still prone to trying to fix things that aren’t mine to fix.
And as things do start to spin out of control, we must stop in our tracks, surrender to the Lord, and ask that He have His way in our life. Instead, too often, we keep trying to fix things but continue to make them worse and more complicated.
Rachel’s story has gone from being a romance to a drama to a tragedy. And if it stopped there, it would be heartbreaking and disheartening. But it doesn’t.
Eventually, God allows Rachel to conceive. Despite everything that has taken place, God pours out His mercy and grace. Plus, He had plans for all of Jacob’s children, not just the son of his beloved Rachel.
Let’s rejoice that the Lord is faithful and loving, that He is merciful and kind, and that He is working out His plans and purposes even when we’re making a mess of things.
Stephanie is a freelance writer and a contributor to our Christian internet radio station, HopeStreamRadio. Read and hear more from Steph Nickel on the contributor’s page or at Steph Nickel’s Eclectic Interests.
Stephanie’s show, “Family Life Lessons,” airs from Monday to Friday on HopeStreamRadio.
Read More About Rachel and Leah
Images courtesy of:
Hooded Man – intographics
Beautiful Woman – Walkerssk
Woman in Field – matuska
Sad Girl – GoranH
Angry woman – rawpixel
David Town – Compassion and Caring
Don Salmans – Increasing Our Faith
Dr. John Marriott – Faithful Presence
Gary McBride – Forgiveness in Relationships