October 09, 2020

Family Matters

Genesis 29:31-30:2

When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister.

—  Genesis 30:2

Sometimes God humbles us by putting us in situations beyond our control.

For Jacob, this humbling began with his own family. His uncle tricked him into a marriage with Leah, whom he failed to love, creating a rivalry with Rachel for his affection. Nowhere was this rivalry felt more strongly than when Leah began having children. Any struggle with infertility can be deeply painful, and Rachel reacted with predictable bitterness.

While Jacob rightly points out that it is beyond his ability to ease Rachel’s pain, his response is one of anger. Like many of us, Jacob is accustomed to leaning on his own ability to solve problems. But his inability to help Rachel frustrates him, and it leads him to frustrate and hurt the people around him. Confidence in our own abilities often does that.

But Jacob’s words are truer than he knows: “Am I in the place of God . . . ?” While he has not yet fully grasped this truth, these words reveal a growing awareness that Jacob is not God. Life is beyond his control.

We can be frustrated—and we can frustrate others—when we find ourselves in situations outside of our control. Or we can admit that we are not God, and we can begin to embrace his gracious care for us.

Almighty God, all good things come from you alone. We confess our tendency to take things into our own hands, frustrating ourselves and ­others. Teach us to depend on you alone, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

About the author — Joel Vande Werken

Joel Vande Werken has been a pastor since 2007, serving churches in Sussex, New Jersey, and in Whitinsville, Massachusetts. He and his wife, Brandie, have five young children.

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