This devotional is about Genesis 30.
How do you get what you want? How do you achieve our goals if they depend on factors you can’t control?
That’s what Jacob and Rachel struggled with in this chapter of scripture. Rachel, to begin with, really wanted a baby (v. 1). Infertility can happen to a couple because of physical issues with the husband or the wife. In this case, though, we know the problem wasn’t with Jacob’s body because he was making plenty of children with his other wife, Leah.
Unable to conceive herself, Rachel begged her husband for help (v. 1). But Jacob wasn’t a gynecologist and, at that time, there were no medically-valid infertility treatments anyway, so he was frustrated in verse 2 that Rachel turned to him. Rachel came up with another idea which was to use her slave as a surrogate mother (v. 3). That plan worked (vv. 4-6), but sparked a baby war between Rachel and Leah (vv. 9-21).
Later in the chapter, Jacob was ready to leave town because he was not prospering financially by working for Laban. We see that in verse 30b where he said, “when may I do something for my own household?” Jacob and Laban brokered a deal that would compensate Jacob better for his work (vv. 31-36). But, rather than merely trusting God to bless his work, Jacob came with a superstitious way to try to tilt the odds of prosperity in his favor (vv. 37-42).
Ultimately, God did give Rachel what she really wanted–not a step-child but a son of her own (vv. 22-23, and another son later who is foreshadowed in verse 24). Note that, in verse 22, “God remembered Rachel; he listened to her….” In other words, it was prayer, not manipulative human schemes, that got Rachel what she wanted.
The book of James, chapter 4:2 says, “…You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.” The human way to reach an impossible goal is to use devious, superstitious, manipulative, or other sinful means.
The way of faith is to pray. Trust God, accept his yes or no answer, but ask him earnestly, repeatedly, sincerely for what you need or desire. Is there any desire or goal you have that you’re trying to use sinful human ways to achieve? Trust God and pray for it instead.