Jacob & Rachel: When Infertility isn’t the Reason for Your Emptiness
(Post 3 in the Series: The 3rd Generation of Infertility in the Bible)
Abraham & Sarah waited and waited, until they were old, to finally have a child: Issac. Isaac & Rebekah waited for twenty years to have a set of twins: Jacob & Esau. Jacob was the child destined to carry on the promise that God had given Abraham. Sadly, Jacob & Rachel were burned with the legacy of infertility as well.
Jacob Meets Rachel
Although not the firstborn of Isaac, Jacob received the birthright and the blessing due to the firstborn from his father, Isaac. Unlike his rebellious older brother, Jacob did what he was supposed to do and went back to Haran to get a wife.
For Jacob & Rachel, it was love at sight. The younger son fell in love with the younger daughter. Unfortunately, Jacob’s future father in law deceived Jacob and pitted his daughters against one another.
Jacob fell hard for Rachel. Instead of a dowry, the Bible says that Jacob “served seven years for Rachel, and they seem to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.” Genesis 29:20
Yet, the night of his wedding he was tricked and was given Rachel’s sister for his wife. A week later, Isaac was finally married to his love Rachel. Now, he had two wives and had to serve for another seven years for their father.
“When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.” Genesis 29:31
Two Empty Sisters: One a Barren Womb, the other a Barren Heart
Rachel desperately wanted to have a child, but Leah desperately wanted to be loved. Rachel was the more beautiful one. Rachel was the wanted one. Leah gave her husband son after son, but she never felt loved. The names of Leah’s sons all reflect what she wanted: Reuben, to be seen; Simeon, to be heard; Levi – to feel connected. Then, with her son Judah – she gives praise to God.
From Leah’s story, we learn that only God can fill those empty places in our hearts. A husband cannot make us feel whole and loved. Our worth is not found in our children either. God’s love is what we truly need. God sees us. God hears us. God wants to connect with us.
These examples of infertility in the Bible teach us that ultimately a baby or a husband will not fill our deepest needs. Only God can truly complete us.
Sadly, Rachel and Leah continue to feud in their mutual unhappiness. They each give their servants to Jacob to conceive children in the hopes of winning in their war against one another. They fight their pain through their children. Rachel even fights with Jacob. The Bible tells us that Jacob was angry with Rachel.
Infertility, Anger, & Frustration in Jacob & Rachel’s Marriage
Sometimes when we are angry that our life is not going as we want, we are angry. In our anger, we lash out at others. Jacob was able to father children, so the problem wasn’t his body but Rachel’s body that is not cooperating. “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?”
When we are angry about our infertility, we direct our anger with God instead at all of the people around us. We can act out in ways that hurt our family as Leah and Rachel extended their battle for domination with their maidservants.
“Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. She conceived and bore a son and said, “God has taken away my reproach.” And she called his name Joseph, saying “May the Lord add to me another son!” Genesis 30:22-14
God listened to her and opened her womb. Rachel was praying. God listens to us when we pray. He may not answer us right away in the way we want our prayer to be answered, but rest assured – God is listening.
Many years pass and God does indeed add to Rachel another son. “…Rachel went into labor, and she had a hard labor. And when her labor was at its hardest, the midwife said to her, “Do not fear, for you have another son.” Rachel bore another son, but it also cost her life because she died in childbirth.
Jacob & Rachel’s Lessons from Infertility
From Jacob & Rachel, we learn that infertility can lead to anger and frustration. When struggling with infertility, we have to work hard to avoid taking out our frustration on those closest to us. Take that anger, hurt, and frustration to God. He is a big God and can handle it. Share your heart with God in prayer.
Rachel & Leah teach us that a child won’t solve all your problems. When struggling with infertility, it can be easy to see a child as to the solution to all of your struggles in life. A child won’t fix your marriage. A child won’t fix your spiritual emptiness. A child isn’t the solution to giving your life purpose and meaning. Head the voice of Leah. Women with many children still struggle with the emptiness in their heart.
Jacob & Rachel’s story continues in the lives of their children. The two sons of Rachel were Jacob’s favorites. Children born after the struggle with infertility are appreciated as the incredible miracles that they are.
God Keeps His Promises
God promised Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. Three generations struggled with infertility before the nation of Israel was born.
God’s hand was clearly at work opening the wombs of Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel to bring about the fulfillment of his promise. The lessons of infertility in the Bible for the Israelite people was that God will make His promises come true, no matter what the circumstances.
The Bible tells that God wants us to be fruitful and multiply. Furthermore, we know that children are a heritage from the Lord. Sadly, there are no visions from God promising us a child for us to hang on to when we are praying and longing for a child.
Never allow infertility to be more important than your marriage. Never elevate a baby above your love for God and your relationship with Him. Jacob & Rachel & Leah testify to us that neither marriage or a child can fill the first place in your heart that belongs to God.
Never quit praying. God may not heal your infertility, but He may still give you a child. Pray and listen to God’s voice.
You are not broken. You are a loved child of God.
Did you check out the other stories in our multi-generational story of infertility in the Bible?
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