My namesake in the Bible is not a good example of someone who takes matters to God. In fact we don’t read of her praying at all.
Even so, we can learn a lot from her about why we should pray when life is not going smoothly.
Rachel’s story is told in Genesis 29. If you don’t know it, you can read it here.
You’ll notice how the writer sets the scene for us right at the beginning. He says: Leah (Rachel’s older sister) had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful.
My female instincts tell me this is going to be a problem.
When I read this statement I can sense the tension. You see, if someone comments about a friend looking good then thoughts flitter through my mind like: “I wish I was beautiful.” “No one would say that about me.” And, I start to feel resentful towards the friend.
I might have Rachel’s name, but I’m probably more like Leah. If I didn’t wear my contact lenses, I would not be able to see beyond my nose.
Rachel had an admirer and Leah did not. Jacob, madly in love with Rachel, wanted to marry her. However, on their wedding day Laban, Rachel and Leah’s father, tricked Jacob and gave him Leah instead of Rachel. I’ve no idea how Jacob didn’t notice he was in bed with the wrong woman, but he didn’t.
In that ancient culture, Leah as the oldest should be married first, before her younger sister, and Laban made sure it happened.
Jacob married Rachel too, but now he had both sisters as wives. Again, acceptable in that culture.
And so, we have the background to our story. It’s a mess.
Leah might not have been attractive, but she was fertile. Oh boy. She got pregnant easily and popped out babies one after the other.
Perhaps she thought Jacob would notice her now and love her. But, he was still only interested in Rachel.
Rachel, on the other hand, had beauty and a devoted husband, but she wanted the one thing Leah had—to have babies. This is understandable, really, in a culture where producing an heir was pretty important.
The problem is though, those feelings of dissatisfaction Rachel experienced, didn’t stop there. Like those thoughts flitting through my mind, if left unchecked they can begin to take root in our hearts and cause all sorts of trouble.
Rachel was envious of her sister Leah. She let her feelings take hold of her, and things became ugly.
One of the first issues with unchecked, unhealthy emotions is they bring contention into the home and with those closest to us—the people with love.
Rachel saw her barren body as her husband’s fault. She blamed her husband. How ridiculous. Jacob clearly wasn’t infertile.
Then Jacob became angry, with good reason too.
I’m sure there were constant niggling comments made and arguments going on behind closed doors.
However, Hannah took the problem to God. Rachel didn’t. The outcome was completely different.
Hannah walked away at peace. Rachel stayed miserable.
There is a lesson for us in this story.
We should not ignore the negative thoughts and attitudes that consume us. They may seem harmless, yet if we let them marinate in our minds, our attitude and behavior becomes damaging particularly to those closest to us and the people we love.
Instead, we need to bring our troubling thoughts to God in prayer.
Linking up with Holley Gerth at #CoffeeForYourHeart