What Should I Do? (Genesis 30:1-24)

Foolish decisions make difficult situations worse. Foolish decisions are often sinful decisions because they are made out of fear instead of faith. When times get tough, we must not panic because when we panic we seek to take control of our situation and we end up making our situation worse. Choosing faith over fear is the only way to endure life’s storms. In Genesis 30, Jacob has been blessed by God greatly and is now in a difficult family situation. Let us consider:

  1. A Physical Problem. We were told in Genesis 29:31 that Rachel was unable to bear children because she was barren. In Rachel’s day, barrenness was seen as a great misfortune. Children, being necessary for the continuation of the family, were greatly desired and a wife who was not able to give birth was, unfortunately, believed to be a disgrace. This context really brings out the anguish in Rachel’s words to Jacob: “Give me children, or I shall die!” As we shall see, Rachel does not respond in faith but in fear and her worry is leading her to try to take control of her situation.
  2. A Relational Problem. Rachel did not respond in faith but began to envy her sister Leah. Rachel may have been the prettier sister and had Jacob’s love, but Leah had Jacob’s sons. Seeing Leah with four sons and seeing Jacob take pride in these four sons led Rachel to despair. Her jealousy led to bitterness against Jacob as she blamed him for her lack of children. Her pain was so intense that she had convinced herself that if she was not able to have children she would rather die. Needless to say, Rachel was becoming irrational and paranoid and not responding in faith. When Rachel blamed Jacob for her lack of children, Jacob did not console her, rather he got upset. Jacob said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” Jacob told her that it was God (not him) who is keep her from conceiving. Responding in fear and allowing bitterness and anger to creep in, it should not surprise us that the situation gets much worse. Rachel, in an effort to get children, gave Jacob her servant Bilhah as a concubine. Leah also gave her servant Zilpah to Jacob as a concubine. There is also a curious incident of bartering over Jacob involving mandrakes that results in Leah becoming pregnant. In verses 1-21, foolish decisions have made a difficult situation worse. There is hope, however. In verse 22, however, we read that “God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb.” Rachel rejoices in that “God has taken away my reproach.”
  3. A Spiritual Solution. This situation makes it apparent that foolish decisions make difficult situations worse. So what should we do? We avoid foolish and sinful decisions when we remember that God is in control and is allowing this particular situation to happen for a very good reason. Believing that God has a purpose and a plan for everything in our life helps us make faithful decisions. Faithful decisions may not make your difficult situations any better, but the faithful man receives the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding and will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:7). Choosing faith over fear is the only way to endure life’s storms.

The story of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel is hard to read because of the bitterness, fear, anger, and jealousy on display. Many times in the story, someone is choosing to take matters into their own hands. When we reflect on this, let us resist the urge to panic. What should we do? We must: 1) believe God is in control, 2) believe that God has a purpose and a plan for everything in our life and 3) we must believe that God loves us and will bring good out of all we encounter. We must seek God’s wisdom to faithful decisions. Let us choose faith over fear and know that God will bless us with peace that will enable us to endure the struggle. Let us seek the spiritual solution from God for our problems and rest in His peace.