Last week in our look at the life of Jacob (through the book "Escaping with Jacob" by David Ramos), Jacob's life took an unexpected turn when, instead of him being the one outsmarting and taking advantage of others, he was the victim of his uncle Laban. Now he has two wives, Leah and Rachel, and it doesn't take much imagination to know there will be conflict. Life, for Jacob, continues to be "messy,"
Week 9: Read Genesis 29:31-30:24 (Messy Grace)
"The deceptive terms of Jacob's marriages lead into a heap of conflict between his two wives and him. Rachel is clearly the favorite while Leah is left unloved and uncared for by her husband. Leah is hoping to change this by bearing children for Jacob. It's during this quest for offspring that we see how different Jacob's two wives truly are.
The primary way the reader can see how different Rachel and Leah are from one another is in how they name their children. Leah's heart is wholly turned towards God. The names of her children have meanings such as "the Lord saw, the Lord heard, and praise the Lord." Rachel is much more concerned with being victorious over her sister than with honoring God. She names her children "vindication" and "add more."
It's interesting that in complete contrast to the chapter before this one, God is mentioned multiple times. He is the reason Leah is able to conceive so many children because he has compassion on her. And, finally, God remembers Rachel and allows her to have a child as well.
It's stories like these that confirm our God is a God of messy grace. Over and over again, the record of Jacob's life shows conflict and strife. His wives are at each other's throats and battling through the birth of their children. Jacob is tossed around like a piece of meat between them instead of leading his family (or really even being present in any meaningful way). Yet, through it all, God is present. God is watching every deception and foul argument. God never leaves Jacob even as he shows favoritism towards one wife over the other. Despite all that is going wrong in their triangle marriage, God is still blessing Jacob, Leah, and Rachel. He is answering their prayers, granting them children, and building the promise of Abraham through Jacob even in the midst of their disobedience.
God is a God of messy grace. It doesn't matter where we are or what we have done, God's grace can find us. He doesn't need clean, healthy, spotless people to accomplish his plans. He uses the messy ones, the broken ones, ones just like us. Even our biggest sins require only a fraction of a drop of God's grace. And it is God's joy to join us in our mess."
Takeaway from today's lesson: God loves messes and messy people.
Prayer: God, thank you that my mess doesn't scare you or turn you away. Help me to know that you love me even in my times of failure. Amen.