In Genesis 30-31, there are a lot of births. Leah and Rachel basically have a small baby boom. It seems almost weirdly amusing that these two sisters are competing this way. They even follow Sarah’s lead and get their female servants involved. Then, suddenly there’s 11 baby boys (and one baby girl that’s mentioned). That’s a lot of mouths to feed! This was the beginning of the twelve tribes of Israel.
So, I think today what I want to start with, briefly, is women. (Being a woman myself, I think we’re pretty cool in general) In the beginning, God created man, but in Genesis 2:18 God determines to make man a suitable helper because it wasn’t good for him to be alone. And thus, we have women! Eve was formed from one of Adam’s ribs, she was meant to complement him and they were to be one flesh. Obviously, some things got off kilter when sin entered the world, but originally this was the ideal partnership.
Since God created people in His image, I think one of the most precious gifts that God gave to women is the ability to be the vehicle for bringing life into this world. He gave women a major role in creating by allowing their bodies to be the place that a new life is formed. This is just one place I think we see God imprinting Himself on humanity by giving us the ability to create, and, I think it’s clear that we have a seriously creative God.
In Genesis 30 we see that gift in action. Like, a lot of action because there are so many babies. But, there’s another part of these verses that really stands out to me and that’s the fact that we see phrases like “the Lord heard…” or “the Lord remembered…” during the baby fever.
I don’t pretend to understand how it feels to struggle with infertility, but I know this was a difficult time in Rachel’s life. She and Jacob were in love, and Rachel desperately wanted children. She watched as her sister, who Jacob didn’t even want to marry, had multiple children with him. Then, she even tried to fix things by getting Jacob to have children with her female servant. This had to be difficult for her, and that’s probably vastly understating it.
But “God remembered Rachel; He listened to her” and she finally had a son (Genesis 30:22). After a long time of hoping and praying for a child, and watching three other women have children with the man she loved, Rachel had Joseph.
I don’t know what big thing is weighing on you today, but God hears you just like He heard Rachel. Maybe it’s not something that’s comparable to infertility—maybe it is—regardless, God hears you.
“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is near the brokenhearted, He saves those crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:17-18
There are times where we go through periods of broken-heartedness, depression, and major discouragement and it can seem like God is so far away. Sometimes it feels like you’re praying to the empty air above you; or, that if your prayers are reaching heaven, they’re being put on a heavenly answering machine. “Hello, you’ve reached God’s voicemail. Please leave your message after the beep as He is too busy curing world hunger and disease at the moment. Thank you. *beep*”
But, that’s not how it is. He is never far away from us—He’s omnipresent. He hears when the righteous cry out to Him. The Bible says He knows all our needs before we even speak them (Matthew 6:7-8), so, why do we go through these periods of doubts, struggles, and discouragement?
I don’t have a definite answer for exactly why, but I can tell you that there is always a purpose. Maybe it’s like with Job where He’s testing our faith, maybe it’s to teach us something, maybe it’s so that our faith can grow, or maybe it’s so that we can help those around us. I don’t understand it all, but I know He hears you.
What do we do in the meantime when our prayers all seem to be answered with “just wait?”
I think one of the things that immediately springs to mind is Jeremiah 29:11. The context of this verse is not a happy event. It’s not a graduation, it’s not a wedding, it’s God saying that the Israelites are going to remain in exile for seventy years. Seventy years is a long time.
This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill My good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place form which I carried you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:10-14
Even though the Israelites were in exile God didn’t want them to think He had forgotten them. He made a covenant with this nation and He declared that He had plans for them for their good. Although, I’m sure it didn’t feel that way in exile just like it doesn’t always feel like there’s any ‘good’ when we’re amid similar seasons in our lives. He still promises to be found by us when we seek Him with our whole heart.
So, maybe that’s the answer that we need. When we’re feeling forgotten or lost, we need to turn to God and seek Him wholeheartedly. This should be what we strive for all the time, but especially when we’re struggling through something. It doesn’t guarantee that we get a specific answer as to why we’re going through that struggle, but God does promise that we will find Him. And, maybe that’s something He’s trying to speak to our hearts in those moments: that we need Him and that we can fully rest on Him. I don’t read anywhere in the Bible where God asks us to fake it in front of Him. I believe that He wants for us to lay open our hearts, our desires, our doubts, what we despair over in front of Him. He is “near to the broken-hearted” and the Holy Spirit is even called a “comforter” or “counselor” (John 14:16).
If you’re in a situation that seems hopeless, seek Him. Maybe He doesn’t answer your prayer in the way you want Him to, but He is listening. He remembered Rachel, and I am convinced that the more you “delight yourself in the Lord,” even when it’s hardest, that “He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).