Turn now in prayer to the Lover of your soul, breathe in God’s unconditional love and praise him for it.
Read Genesis 29:31-30:24
 When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless.  Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”  She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Because the LORD heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon.  Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” So he was named Levi.  She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.  When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!”  Jacob became angry with her and said, “Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?”  Then she said, “Here is Bilhah, my servant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and I too can build a family through her.”  So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife. Jacob slept with her,  and she became pregnant and bore him a son.  Then Rachel said, “God has vindicated me; he has listened to my plea and given me a son.” Because of this she named him Dan.  Rachel’s servant Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son.  Then Rachel said, “I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I have won.” So she named him Naphtali.  When Leah saw that she had stopped having children, she took her servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife.  Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a son.  Then Leah said, “What good fortune!” So she named him Gad.  Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a second son.  Then Leah said, “How happy I am! The women will call me happy.” So she named him Asher.  During wheat harvest, Reuben went out into the fields and found some mandrake plants, which he brought to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”  But she said to her, “Wasn’t it enough that you took away my husband? Will you take my son’s mandrakes too?” “Very well,” Rachel said, “he can sleep with you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.”  So when Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him. “You must sleep with me,” she said. “I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he slept with her that night.  God listened to Leah, and she became pregnant and bore Jacob a fifth son.  Then Leah said, “God has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband.” So she named him Issachar.  Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son.  Then Leah said, “God has presented me with a precious gift. This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him six sons.” So she named him Zebulun.  Some time later she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah.  Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive.  She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, “God has taken away my disgrace.”  She named him Joseph, and said, “May the LORD add to me another son.” Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectTo what or whom do the women attribute their children?
With the passage of time, twelve children are added to Jacob’s family. But it’s a rather complicated affair: Leah produces six sons and one daughter; Rachel gives birth to one son; Rachel’s servant Bilhah gives Jacob two sons, while Zilpah, Leah’s servant, also has two sons. Although the culture was considerably different from our own, this is not a straightforward family life. Both wives try to outdo each other in childbearing, and they have nurtured destructive attitudes towards each other and Jacob. Rachel is jealous of her sister (30:1) and Leah feels unloved (29:33), but God is also at work here. He sees (29:31), listens (30:17) and remembers (30:22) as he works with this tricky family. Politicians are eager to invoke a golden period in family life, but this story reminds us that this most essential of all human institutions is often a stage for strife as well as love. What comes to mind as you consider your own experience of family life? This passage gives us permission to look at these precious relationships in all their complexity and, sometimes, messiness. Still, we know God can work in and through them, nonetheless.
Are there tensions or struggles within your family? If so, ask God for greater love and understanding to prevail there.
Lord, thank You for my family and the joy they bring me. Help me love them and nurture our relationships.
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