Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 30:14-15, 17, 19, 21

14 And Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them unto his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, Give me, I pray thee, of thy son’s mandrakes.

15 And she said unto her, Is it a small matter that thou hast taken my husband? and wouldest thou take away my son’s mandrakes also? And Rachel said, Therefore he shall lie with thee to night for thy son’s mandrakes.

17 And God hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived, and bare Jacob the fifth son.

19 And Leah conceived again, and bare Jacob the sixth son.

21 And afterwards she bare a daughter, and called her name Dinah.

This incident of Rachel trading a night with Jacob for Reuben’s mandrakes is very similar to Esau giving up his birthright for Jacob’s mess of pottage. All Rachel wanted was to have a nice fruit, but she ended up extending her sister’s branch beyond her own.

It’s also interesting to note that previously Leah “had left bearing,” but now she was fertile once more. I can’t help but think that this would have been a particularly hard thing for Rachel to witness. Her sister that had initially been able to have children finally came into the same state of no longer being able to, only to have that ability returned to her out of the blue. Leah had twice received that which Rachel longed for even once!

But this humbling experience was the last one Rachel had to endure before finally receiving her own blessing. And while she would never bear as many sons as her sister, she would give birth to the choicest of them all.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 30:6-8

6 And Rachel said, God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore called she his name Dan.

7 And Bilhah Rachel’s maid conceived again, and bare Jacob a second son.

8 And Rachel said, With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed: and she called his name Naphtali.

Rachel may have been prevented from having children directly, but God did allow her backup plan to work. Bilhah was able to conceive, and Rachel was as joyous to welcome her handmaid’s sons as if they had been her very own. What a turnaround from when she despaired to Jacob that she would die if she could not have any children!

Rachel despaired because she had been fighting for something that just wasn’t going to work out. In each of our lives there are these matters that don’t go according to plan, losses that have to be accepted. So long as Rachel persisted in her original path, she was only going to make herself more and more frustrated. Rachel instructing Jacob to take Bilhah to wife shows that she was finally surrendering those original plans and accepting things as they really were. It was only then, after being humbled and reformed, that she was able to find success.

And so it is with each of us. We all have times of trying to fit our square-peg dreams into our round-hole realities. We have our agenda, and we relentlessly pursue it, even when things stubbornly refuse to work out how we want. Eventually we have to be broken enough to let the old dream go and find out what divine role we were actually meant to fulfill.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 21:14-16

14 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.

15 And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs.

16 And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept.

What a dramatic turn of events for Hagar and her son. Presumably she began as a servant in Egypt, then was recruited to Abraham’s entourage, was elected by her mistress to conceive a child for Abraham, and finally gave birth to a son. This would have greatly opened up her life opportunities, for when her son received his inheritance she would finally be raised from a bondwoman to a freewoman.

However it was an option in this ancient culture to exchange the future inheritance of a servant son for their immediate freedom. This was the option that Abraham exercised, freeing Hagar and her son to be their own masters immediately.

But their freedom couldn’t bring them refuge from the hardships of the world, and very quickly they were out of resources and on the brink of death. From the promise of a great inheritance to alone in the wilderness, this is an incredibly humbling situation. And it is here, at their absolute low, that God shows up for Hagar and her child.