Leah & Rachel • Devotion #2: HIS Best
Holly Boston | Women’s Ministry Director
I am privileged to be the mother of an amazing young man with Autism. There are three words I would use to describe John “Carter”: loving, sensitive, and compliant (to a fault). When Carter was young, I often tried to talk to him about Jesus and the sacrifice He made for him on the cross. I was always met with Carter sobbing and unable to listen. I was so afraid he would never come to know Christ. After all, if he struggled with having relationships with people he could see and hear, how would he ever experience a personal relationship with his Savior? Realizing there was nothing I could do, I prayed and gave my boy to God. Three years later, Carter came to me and said, “I want Jesus in my heart.” I then witnessed him pray the most beautiful prayer, tell his entire extended family (unbelievers who assumed he knew Christ because I do), and then practice baptizing himself in a hot tub. All of it was unprompted by Mom. If this is not God’s best, I do not know what is.
When I was asked to write about Jacob marrying Leah and Rachel, I considered topics like sowing and reaping, patience, love, and envy. But the comment I kept coming back to was that there was no indication that Jacob prayed before searching for a wife. In Genesis chapter 29, we learn that Jacob apparently fell in love at first sight, “Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance” (Genesis 29:17). Jacob was clearly following his flesh, not the Spirit. In 1 Samuel 16:7, we are taught that God does not choose people according to their appearance but the heart. We would be wise to do the same.
If you continue to read the story, you will see that Laban (future father-in-law) agreed to give Rachel to Jacob in exchange for seven years of work; the customary price for a bride. After seven years, Jacob asked for Rachel, and through some crazy plot of deceit, Laban gave Jacob Leah instead of Rachel. How a man sleeps with a woman and does not realize it is not his wife is beyond comprehension. But, I digress. The story continues with Jacob continuing to pursue what he wants: Rachel. He agreed to another seven years of work and took a second wife. Please note: Still no praying. A battle ensues between the wives. There is barrenness, hatred, envy, and strife, not at all what God has in mind for us. Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) says,
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
Was all the pain and strife a result of not praying? Could all the heartache have been avoided? I believe so. If you fast forward a generation, you get a glimpse of God’s best for Jacob. “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ… Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah…” (Matthew 1:1-2).
Jacob’s son, Judah, was chosen to be part of the lineage of Jesus Christ. It does not get any better than that! The kicker is Leah was his mother, not Rachel. This leaves many questions: Was he just supposed to marry Leah? Could he have received the fulfillment of God’s promises through Leah and avoided all the drama and pain by praying and asking God if Rachel was His choice? I know that if I had gone immediately to God with my concerns about Carter, it would have saved me a lot of sleepless nights. At any time during those three years I could have gone to Carter and told him that he needed to pray to receive Jesus and he would have. He was obedient. But God in His mercy and grace intervened and answered my prayer in a way that I would never again question Carter’s salvation. That is His best!
There is a second lesson. If you too have failed to give a decision or situation to God and went off on your path, there is hope. Joseph, son of Jacob, was chosen to save his entire family from a devastating famine (Genesis chapters 45-46). Guess who his mother was? Rachel (Genesis 30:23). That is awesome, but it is not His best. The lesson: God’s mercy and grace trump all our mistakes and incredibly, all our sins. Though Jacob and his wives experienced the consequences of pursuing their desires, their way, God worked it all for good. Romans 8:28 (NIV) says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
I do not know about you, but I want God’s best! Sometimes God’s plan requires us to endure pain to shape us and transform us. I do not see the need for unnecessary stress and chaos. As for me, I will pray then proceed.