How do you react when life takes a turn in an unexpected and unwanted direction? When all your best laid plans are suddenly discarded, and the new normal is nothing like what you’d planned? Do you accept the new life, making the most of what you’ve been given, or do you resist, fighting it with every ounce of your being? Are you clamorous or contented?
In today’s episode of All God’s Women we look at Rachel and Leah, two sisters, caught up in a web of deceit by their father’s scheme, forced to live the rest of their lives as sister wives. Both were victims, but one moved on and made the best of a bad situation, and one remained a victim for the remainder of her days.
When we first meet Rachel in Genesis 29, she’s a lovely young shepherdess taking care of her father’s sheep. Jacob is immediately smitten with her. He kisses her and weeps for joy. It’s love at first sight. As he gets to know Rachel better, his love continues to grow. It doesn’t take long for him to ask for her hand in marriage, offering to serve Laban, Rachel’s father, for 7 years in exchange for Rachel as his wife. We’re told that the years seemed like only days so great was the love that he had for her.
It was the perfect beginning for a happily ever after, but on the night that should have been the highlight of their lives, Daddy threw them a curve ball. While it was tradition at the time for the older sister to marry before the younger sister, no mention was made during Rachel and Jacob’s courtship. Surely they knew of the tradition, but in their infatuation with each other they must have assumed an exception could be made this time.
I can only imagine how Rachel must have felt when Laban pulled her aside and informed her that she would not be marrying her beloved on their wedding day. Instead, Leah would be the one to web Jacob.
And what about Leah? What were her feelings for Jacob? How did she feel about marrying a man who was in love with her sister? Did she even want to be married?
How did Leah feel when Jacob arranged to work 7 more years so that he could marry Rachel as well as Leah?
Did Rachel want to be married to Jacob if he were already married to Leah?
What an awkward triangle of three individuals brought together against their wills in a way that none of them wanted.
Laban deprived all three – Rachel, Jacob, and Leah – of their perfect happily ever after. But they each had free will to determine what they did with the rest of their forever.
Despite Jacob loving Rachel more than Leah, he and Leah were not without intimacy. In fact, Leah spent much of their early years together pregnant and raising her many sons. With each birth she revealed much about her spiritual status. With Reuben she said, “The Lord has seen my misery. Now my husband will love me.” With Simeon she said, “The Lord heard that I am unloved and has given me this son also.” With Levi, “At last, my husband will become attached to me because I have borne him three sons.” And with Judah, “This time I will praise the Lord.”
Leah desired for her husband to love her, but she accepted that this was not to be. So she praised God for her blessings – her sons.
Rachel, on the other hand, remained childless. She had the love of her husband, but it wasn’t enough. She wanted more. She envied her sister and blamed Jacob with her infertility. “Give me sons or I will die!” What could Jacob do? He obviously wasn’t the one with the problem.
So Rachel gave Jacob her maid so she could conceive for her. When the maid’s son Dan was born, her response, “God has vindicated me and given me a son.” When her slave bore another son, “In my wrestlings with God, I have wrestled with my sister and won. Even when Rachel was finally able to conceive her own son, her response? “May the Lord add another son to me.”
As Leah gained more sons through her maid then conceived more sons and a daughter, she rejoiced in each one, giving God praise.
The last we see of Rachel is her dying words as she gave birth to her second son. She named him Son of Sorrow. She played the victim to the very end of her days.
The year 2020 opened with great promise. Then before we knew what was happening, we were all hit with a plot twist that none of us could have foreseen. Now we each have a choice to make. We can accept this new normal, make the most of our current situation, and praise God for our blessings. Or we can forevermore clamor about the unfairness of life. We can blame others, we can envy those around us, we can ultimately blame God.
The choice is ours to make.
You may feel mistreated or unloved. You may, in fact, be mistreated and unloved by those around you. But please know that you are not alone. God is with you and He loves you very much. He alone can provide you the contentment that you desire so desperately.
In these days of trials and tribulation, turn your eyes to Him and to Him alone.
Lord God, we come to you confused and a little angry with the way things have turned out. We’ve missed out on opportunities we’d looked forward to. This is not how we planned to spend this season of our lives. But Lord, we know that none of this caught you by surprise. You are in control. Help us to turn our eyes to you, to be able to see this situation through Your eyes. Allow us to see all the many blessings You’ve surrounded us with. Thank You for Your everlasting love and kindness. In Christ name. Amen.
If you’d like to learn more about Rachel and Leah, check out the show notes where I provide the scripture references related to this as well as additional resources so that you may study these two sisters more in depth.
Tune in next week when we talk about Shiphrah and Puah two Hebrew midwives who risked their lives in order to save the lives of others.
Genesis 31: 1-35
Genesis 35: 16-20
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