Faith Filled Stories: The Two Contenders (Part Two)
We’ve heard Leah’s side of the story. The poor rejected woman, stuck in an unloving marriage. She was eventually blessed with six sons! Now let’s hear the other side. Bring in Rachel. No, not me silly. The Rachel from the Bible.
“Rachel was shapely and beautiful” (Genesis 29:17b). Her husband Jacob adored her. He was so infatuated with her that was willing to work 14 years to marry her.
Their marriage started off well, minus Leah being stuck in the middle. Jacob “loved Rachel more than Leah.” (Genesis 29:30). Unfortunately, the honeymoon phase didn’t last long for these two.
Leah conceived and gave birth to four sons with Jacob. Rachel’s beauty and love for Jacob suddenly didn’t seem like enough in her eyes. She was considered barren, a disgrace in those days. This turned to Rachel envying her sister. She was so desperate, she told Jacob to “give [her] sons or [she] will die!” (Genesis 30:1)
Jacob, realizing the bitterness of her heart became angry and rebuked her. “Am I in God’s place, who has withheld children from you?” (Genesis 30:2)
Instead of Rachel crying out to God and asking for His help, she like Sarah, took matters into her own hands. She gave her slave Bilhah to Jacob to get pregnant so that Rachel could grow a family that way. In those days, a slave would be like a surrogate. Bilhah bore Jacob two sons.
This opened a massive can of worms. Bitterness, envy, and competition bled deeply between these two sisters.
Leah, not conceiving past her fourth son gave her slave to Jacob to bear more children. Dissatisfaction led to Jacob becoming a pawn in their twisted game. Jacob’s downfall is that he let them do it. He also had a choice to say no. Instead, he ended up with four wives. Talk about complicated!
But it didn’t stop there. Bribery would then take root. Rachel bought mandrakes from Leah’s oldest son. In turn, Leah was able to sleep with Jacob.
In all this, God was not far from any of them. He gave great grace and opened Rachel’s womb. She was not deserving of His grace … nor are we.
In the midst of this chaotic family’s drama, He gave His grace to Rachel and opened her womb. She gave birth to Jacob’s favoured son, Joseph. Instead of giving God the praise He deserved, she stated, “may the Lord add another son to me.” (Genesis 30:24). At least she noted that God had removed her shame.
Rachel’s story didn’t end well. She hid her father’s idols after they moved from his land. She lied to him when Laban went searching for them.
Then, Rachel’s life ended early with the birth of her second son. “With her last breath…she named him Ben-oni” (Genesis 35:18), which means “son of my sorrow”. She died a discontented and sorrowful woman. Thankfully, Jacob seeing the importance of a name decided to change his son’s name to Benjamin. This means “son of my right hand”.
I share Leah and Rachel’s stories for one important reason:
Your attitude can change everything.
We have one unloved woman in Leah. We have an envious and bitter woman in Rachel. Jacob shouldn’t have taken two wives in the first place, nor ended up with four. But he did. This caused much unnecessary strife.
Instead of Rachel giving her hurt and grief to the Lord, she allowed it to infect her heart to its core. It became what she was known for. It caused tension in her marriage. It caused greater division for her, her sister, and their slaves. It disrupted what the unity of marriage should be all about. Instead of enjoying her husband, he became a pawn in her game of baby competition.
In the end, Rachel had a bitter death and was buried on the way to Jacob’s family’s promised home. Therefore, Jacob and Leah were buried together. See Genesis 35:19-20 and 49:29-33.
Rachel’s legacy is now known as sorrowful to this day. Jeremiah 31:15 and Matthew 2:18 give the same account. “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” (Matthew 2:18)
We have a choice. We can let the seed of bitterness and envy grow within our souls causing hurt and sorrow for those around us. Or, we can choose to trust the Lord to see us through this turmoil. What legacy do you want to leave for your loved ones?
It is scary to trust the Lord with your most vulnerable area of life. It is hard when the circumstances are completely out of your control. This is still a struggle that people hide and don’t want to talk about today.
The Father knows. He knows it all. So, you might as well open up and share with Him. I’d rather you find freedom for your heart and soul than allow the weeds of envy and bitterness to choke it out.
You were made for so much more. Be with Jesus. Allow yourself to bring your heart to His altar rather than hide it from Him. You don’t have to fear Him. He is all-gentle, all-loving, all-peaceful. He wants you to live a vibrant life. He wants to bless you. Let Him be a healing balm to your soul today.