Have you ever let jealousy or anger or the desire to be loved take you to places you never imagined you would go?
Are there choices in your life you regret?
Do you take matters in to your own hands?
Has something terrible happened to you at the hand of another?
Are your family dynamics less than desirable?
Do you need to know there is hope and beauty despite these things?
The story of Leah and Rachel in Genesis has been on my mind for months. It’s not a story for the weak at heart. There is jealousy, anger, selfish ambition, cruel intentions, betrayal, and rape.
It’s a hard story.
And it was a hard life for them.
Leah and Rachel were sisters who married the same husband, Jacob. The first sister-wives, if you will. Their father tricked Jacob into marrying Leah even though he wanted Rachel, and eventually, Jacob married Rachel as well.
Leah knew Jacob didn’t love her; that he wanted her sister, Rachel, instead. She bore this shame daily. She longed for love and affection and thought she had to earn it to get it. God saw her misery and heard her prayers, and so he blessed her with the ability to have children.
Rachel had the thing Leah craved most – the love and affection of Jacob. But Rachel had her own burden to bear. She was unable to have children. Jealous of her sister’s ability, she resented Leah and was angry at her husband despite the fact that it was God who had closed her womb.
And so a war of hideous proportions began fueled by jealousy between the sisters, and they started a contest to see who could have the most children. To make matters worse, when they couldn’t physically bear children themselves, they gave their handmaids to have children on their behalf.
Can you image the handmaid’s plight? To be forced to have sex with the husband of another to bear children that would not be yours?
The result of the battle brought about children. Children who would be exposed to this unhealthy dynamic.
Can you image their position? To know they were pawns in their mother’s games?
How could Leah and Rachel (and Jacob) be so dumb? How could they be so cruel to one another? How could they let resentment and jealousy drive them to such unhealthy behaviors? How could they use the people who cared for them and the innocent lives of children as weapons in their war?
It is so easy for me to judge. So easy for me to go there. So easy for me to not put myself in their shoes.
As much as we hate to admit it, we are the same as Leah and Rachel. Our devices might look different and our situations may not be the same, but feelings will get the best of every one of us. And feelings drive us to make dumb decisions. Really dumb.
We will use and abuse people. We will manipulate. We will incorporate others into our evil schemes. We will go to extraordinary lengths to feel love and to belong. We will miss the mark far beyond what we think.
Or maybe you are on the up-and-up. Maybe you’re a self-aware, devoted Christian who checks off all the boxes.
You read your bible daily. You go to church. You listen to Christian music. You obey. You serve. You minister. You pray. You are even part of a small group.
But you fear what would happen if you failed to check off a box. You fear the consequence. You think your world will fall apart or that God will smite you if you stumble even once.
In either case, there is hope and grace amidst Leah & Rachel’s depravity.
Earlier in Genesis, God makes a promise. God promised Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham, that he would make him into a great nation. Jacob’s father, Isaac, received the same promise from the Lord. And God’s promise to Abraham and Isaac was to carry on through Jacob’s lineage. Let’s also remember Jacob stole that blessing from his eldest brother, Esau.
God had a plan to make Abraham’s descendants into a great nation that would ultimately bless everyone. Rachel & Leah’s war – as unhealthy and sick and twisted as it was – literally birthed the twelve sons that would become twelve tribes that would make up the nation of Israel.
The nation of Israel who would birth our Savior, Jesus, was born in the muck of mucked up individuals. He was born because of, and in spite of, scheming, twisted, disobedient, manipulative, hard-hearted, stiff-necked people. He was born from people who didn’t check off all the boxes, and that is a game changer.
God used every bit of their unhealthy behavior to bring about His plan of redemption and to fulfill His covenant promise to Adam & Eve, to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, and ultimately to all humanity.
So, think back with me….
What bad decision seems irredeemable? What regret keeps you up at night? What feelings get the best of you? Who has been collateral damage to your shortcomings? Who have you hurt in your quest for love or power or money? Are you collateral damage to another’s actions?
Like Leah & Rachel’s story, there is hope and grace for you here.
Not one single one of us is powerful enough to screw up God’s plan. A situation can never go too far that God cannot redeem it. He is famous for using foolishness to accomplish His desires.
He can use your jealousy. He can use your bad decisions. He can use the thing you most regret. He can use terrible family dynamics. He can use that bad thing that happened to you at the hands of another. He can use anything to accomplish His good plan.
And anything includes the worst thing you’ve ever done and the worst thing that has ever happened to you.
Joseph was right. What we mean for evil, God uses for good.
So, take a deep breath. Breathe. You do not know what God is doing. You do not know how it is going to turn out.
Rest in knowing you cannot screw up beyond the help and purposes of God. You’re not that big. And even if you were, God is bigger still. And He is faithful.
Has God redeemed something in your life? Sharing your story in the comments can encourage others, and I would love to hear it as well.