We see it all the time—an investor makes crooked deals in an attempt to make up losses in his client’s portfolios, a botched cosmetic surgery for someone trying to reclaim the looks of their youth, or a teenager cheats on a test they didn’t study for. When we are desperate to achieve something that we feel we are entitled to, or that we have to fix something we have messed up, we try and control the outcome. We take matters into our own hands to manipulate the outcome that we desire.
- When have you been guilty of this? What was that experience like? Did it bring you a sense of peace?
READ THE WORD: GENESIS 30:1-24 (ESV)
30 When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister. She said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I shall die!” 2 Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” 3 Then she said, “Here is my servant Bilhah; go in to her, so that she may give birth on my behalf, that even I may have children through her.” 4 So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife, and Jacob went in to her.5 And Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son. 6 Then Rachel said, “God has judged me, and has also heard my voice and given me a son.” Therefore she called his name Dan. 7 Rachel’s servant Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. 8 Then Rachel said, “With mighty wrestlingsI have wrestled with my sister and have prevailed.” So she called his name Naphtali.
9 When Leah saw that she had ceased bearing children, she took her servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. 10 Then Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11 And Leah said, “Good fortune has come!” so she called his name Gad. 12 Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. 13 And Leah said, “Happy am I! For women have called me happy.” So she called his name Asher.
14 In the days of wheat harvest Reuben went and found mandrakes in the field and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”15 But she said to her, “Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband? Would you take away my son’s mandrakes also?” Rachel said, “Then he may lie with you tonight in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.” 16 When Jacob came from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come in to me, for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he lay with her that night. 17 And God listened to Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son.18 Leah said, “God has given me my wages because I gave my servant to my husband.” So she called his name Issachar.
19 And Leah conceived again, and she bore Jacob a sixth son. 20 Then Leah said, “God has endowed me with a good endowment; now my husband will honor me, because I have borne him six sons.” So she called his name Zebulun. 21 Afterward she bore a daughter and called her name Dinah.
22 Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. 23 She conceived and bore a son and said, “God has taken away my reproach.” 24 And she called his name Joseph,saying, “May the Lord add to me another son!”
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- What emotions do you see driving the decisions and actions in this story (vss. 1, 2, 9, 15)?
- What are the results of Rachel’s manipulation? Is God still fulfilling his promise to give Jacob offspring (Genesis 28:14)?
- Where do you see faith being displayed in this story (for example, in verse 20)?
- What is said about God in this story? How is he viewed (for example, in verse 6)?
- How could Rachel have shown trust in God from the start? How can you show trust in God when you are in a desperate situation?
RESPOND TO GOD
When we attempt to control, we show that we don’t trust God; and when we don’t trust God, we invariably sin. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that without faith, it is impossible to please. Yet in this story, we see that, in spite of the sins of doubt and worry, God still ultimately hears our prayers and works behind the scenes to build our faith in him and bring about his desired outcomes. We don’t have to worry. We can cast all our cares on him because he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). God is always faithful to his promises (Genesis 28:14) and to his people (2 Timothy 2:13).
- Take time to reflect on any areas where you are trying to control the outcome instead of trusting God.
- Ask him for forgiveness and for the ability to trust him with anything that you are feeling anxiety about.