Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Matriarchs on a.......Tuesday? Rachel and Leah

Sorry, doesn't have quite the same ring to it, but, following on from my last post....better late than never!

So, I am indeed going to deal with the two ladies at once, because the topic that struck me was jealousy.

For starters, I think this account DEFINITELY highlights that polygamy just ISN'T a good idea! lol  The problems it caused....*rolls eyes*

However, I think that the issue it raised can be looked at in relation to us as womankind in general, and not just within this unique scenario presented in Genesis.

I feel sorry for Leah.  There is nowhere that we find that she was complicit with her father's plan to marry her off to Jacob, instead of Rachel.  In fact, it may well have been against her wishes at all! She started off on a bad footing right away.  Jacob never wanted her.  He wanted her beautiful sister.  From the description we are given, she was not the beauty that Rachel was.

Then, things got worse.  We are told that Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah - understandably, in one sense, as Rachel was the one he wanted to marry in the first place.  But, it then carries on to say....

"And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren."
 Genesis 29:31

Jacob, in fact, hated Leah.  How sad!  He didn't say "well, I have been tricked by my father-in-law, but I will make the most of it, and love Leah as well."  Nope.  He HATED her!

But, God is so incredibly gracious.  He saw Leah's sad situation, and He blessed her with a child, and left Rachel with none.  

Over and over, in the naming of her children, we see that they are connected with the Lord hearing her prayers and supplications, in her sadness.  She was having a hard time, but she cast herself upon the Lord, and He blessed her with children!  How good God is.

But, then we look to Rachel.  Rachel, who was the "loved" wife.  Rachel who was the one chosen by Jacob.  the one who....had no children.  For her, though, it wasn't enough to be loved.  She wanted to have his children, too, and all she could see was her sister having one child after another, despite the fact that she was not even loved by her husband.  It filled Rachel with envy. It filled her with bitterness.  

She wanted children so much, that  having a child became like a obsession.  She was so determined, that she thought that having a son by her handmaid was a good substitution! So, she sent off her handmaid who had 2 sons with Jacob. Rachel even named her second son in reflection of the fact that she considered having a child like a competition with her sister!

"And Rachel said, With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed: and she called his name Naphtali."
 Genesis 30:8

How envy and jealousy can corrupt our lives, and be the root of bitterness and unhappiness. When we really look at the root of jealousy and envy, it boils down to one thing.  Discontent.  Not discontentment with ourselves - discontentment with God!  When I got to thinking about it, there were three main areas where we may battle with jealousy and discontent.

Discontentment with God's plan for our lives
It's so easy to look at someone else's life and think "I wish that was me"!  

You can look on and "see" how other people don't have the same problems as you have - the trials - the difficulties - the circumstances.   You feel like everyone else's life is hunky-dory!  But, in your dissatisfaction, you are forgetting a couple of things.  

Firstly, whatever is happening your life, is EXACTLY what God wants it to be.  We need to have seek God's grace, in order to see our life through God's eyes and not our own, frail humanity.  To see that the trials are for our good, and HIS glory. Our struggles may not be evidenced as a good thing, until we look back in years to come, and say "ahhhh, NOW I see why God allowed that in my life!"  It should be enough, NOW, for us to know that GOD sees the end from the beginning. 

Secondly, we need to remember that the lives of others, as we see them, are not always as rosy! We see the things that WE think are a "better" way of life, but we don't know what struggles, trials and difficulties THEY may be facing in THEIR circumstances!  Remember the old adage "the grass is always greener on the other side"!!

Discontent with provision in our lives
This is a biggie!  It's sooooooooo easy for us to see what others have, and want it! 

It may be possessions.  There are always going to be people that have something that we would like to have.  There's nothing wrong with OBSERVING that they have it, and thinking that it would be something that we could do with having.  It's when it consumes us to the point of jealousy and "want" that it becomes an issue.  I have had many a great idea by seeing what others have.  And, by prayerfully realising that it is something I could afford and NEED, have gone on to get it.  THAT is not wrong.  But WANTING when we cannot have, is when it is a sin.  It may be property.

It may be comfortable finances.  It' a struggle, especially in today's economic climate, to have financial struggles.  But, once again, God is in control!  So long as we know we are not spending what we haven't got, or spending unwisely, then the Lord will never leave "his children begging bread".  We have been amazed on SO many occasions, at the provision of the Lord at the perfect time, and the perfect amount!  Sometimes we receive a money gift and say "right, what is about to happen that the Lord has given us the funds for?!"  

Discontent with the people in our lives
This may sound a little strange, but think about it.  Do you ever look at other people's "perfect" husbands, or "perfect" children - or even their husbands or children who do things, that we wish our husband or children would do?  THAT is discontent!  The Lord has given us our husbands and children - not someone else husbands or children!  It is, once again, not a bad thing to see a trait in someone else, and think it would be good to encourage our children or husband in that behaviour.  BUT, when we get unhappy and dissatisfied, and continually compare them to others, then that is wrong.  If we see an area where we think some work is needed, pray about it, make sure it a Biblical directive and reasoning that we are using, and THEN seek to change it.  But, don't just think it's necessary because you see it in another person!  We need to look for the good - we need to see the wonderful individualities that our husband and children possess, and not always compare it to others.

I think, by the way, that us homeschooling parents are particularly bad for this!  We see little "Johnny" doing something or another before our little "Mildred" can do it, and start to compare, contrast and try ad mould our little one to be like someone else's little one!  I have come to realise that we should be confident in understanding the abilities of our own child, and get them to learn and develop at their own pace, and not the pace of someone else's completely different child, with their own completely different gifts and abilities!  I think we need a printed sign, up in a frame saying, "I will not compare my child to another child"!!!!!

So, what to learn from Rachel and Leah?   Never let your husband marry a second wife.....no, now seriously!...

Envy can eat you alive.  It goes hand in hand with discontent, which is a sure sign that you are not accepting God's plan for your life.  Don't get eaten alive!

An envious spirit will rob you of your joy.  If the joy of the Lord is our strength, then we will be weak Christians, if we envy what others have got.

Be a joyful Christian, and "be content with such things as ye have".

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