Teach Me Through Every Struggle

Today’s Reading: Genesis 30-36

God confirmed his promise again to Jacob at Bethel – that He would bless Jacob with many descendants and give the land he once gave to Abraham and Isaac to Jacob and his descendants.

Jacob set up a stone pillar to mark the place where God had spoken to him. Then he poured wine over it as an offering to God and anointed the pillar with olive oil. And Jacob named the place Bethel (which means “house of God”), because God had spoken to him there. – Genesis 35:14-15

The very next thing the scripture tells us is that Jacob left Bethel and moved his family on toward Ephrath. His beloved Rachel was pregnant for the second time and she went into labor. Her pains were intense and the delivery was very hard. Finally she gave birth to a son and, with her final breath, named named him Benoni (which means “sons of my right hand”).

Rachel was the love of Jacob’s life. He met her when he arrived in Paddan-Aram. She was bringing her father’s flocks to the well and Jacob moved the stone from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle’s flocks for her. Within a month, Jacob was in love with Rachel and asking her father, Laban, to take her as his wife. He loved her so much that he was willing to work seven years in exchange for his bride. When his uncle deceived him and instead gave him her older sister, Leah, Jacob agreed to another seven years of labor in order to marry Rachel.

Now loving Rachel did not mean that marriage came easy. When she was unable to have children and Leah had already given birth to four sons, Rachel became very jealous and pleaded with Jacob to give her children.

Then Jacob became furious with Rachel. “Am I God?” he asked. “He’s the one who has kept you from having children!” – Genesis 30:2

Now Rachel had a choice. She could draw close to God and trust Him with the desires of her heart, or she could let jealousy and pride guide her actions. Rachel chose the latter. Instead of WAITING FOR GOD’S PLAN IN GOD’S TIME, Rachel began to manipulate her circumstances to get what she wanted. She gave her servant, Bilhah, to Jacob as a wife. Bilhah gave Jacob two sons and Rachel declared, “I have struggled hard with my sister, and I’m winning!” (Gen.30:8)

Apparently two can play at this competitive game because Leah gave her servant to Jacob and added 2 points to her score. Then the sisters began to barter for mandrakes, which were believed to aid in procreation. Again, Rachel was using manipulation and control to get what she wanted instead of going to the Giver of all good gifts. Oh how I wish I could not relate to Rachel here! I wish I never had the tendency to panic and take things into my own hands instead of trusting in God for every provision!

Leah gave birth to two more sons and a daughter but Rachel remained barren. God eventually remembered Rachel in spite of her bitter heart and 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.” – Genesis 30:24

Even in the first moments of holding her newborn son, a gift from God, Rachel is already displeased and desiring more from God. Instead of clinging to the God who provides, Rachel stole the household gods from her father and hid them, choosing to worship false gods instead of the one true God.

GOD’S WILL, GOD’S WAY, in GOD’S TIME – a lesson Rachel never seemed to learn. She gave birth to a second son but was not given the opportunity to raise him. In her struggle to always get more from God, Rachel lost all she had and Jacob lost his first love, Rachel.

Jacob has just renewed his covenant relationship with God at Bethel and now he is burying his sweetheart. Jacob built another stone pillar, this time over Rachel’s grave (35:20). He gathered his large family together and continued on. Jacob could have chosen anger and bitterness at the loss of his wife right after recommitting his life to God, but he chose to accept GOD’S WILL, GOD’S WAY, in GOD’S TIME.

I sometimes find myself with a “you owe me, God” attitude. I know it is wrong and reject that kind of thinking, but then later identify expectations in my heart that need disposed of. For example, when we obeyed God and moved to Texas, it took us almost three years to sell our house. I found myself questioning why God blesses some people with a quick sale yet our house remained unsold. We had obediently followed God’s call on our life and yet our prayers to sell the house seemed to be going unanswered. Almost daily I had to let go of my sinful accusations and let God do things His way in His time. The same struggle remains when I hear of the pastor who dies in a motorcycle accident or the Christian friend who battles cancer. I find myself asking God “why” and hearing Him once again reply, “Trust me.”

It’s all yours, Lord. Everything I want to manipulate and control – every situation, every unknown, every relationship, every heartache – it’s all yours. Thank you for the blessings you so generously pour out into my life each day. I praise you for all you allow in my life – good and bad. Teach me through every struggle and strengthen my faith in you. I love you so much, El Shaddai – God Almighty! Amen.