Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister, and said to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die!” And Jacob’s anger was aroused against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” (Genesis 30:1-2)
It is interesting just how many of the matriarchs of Israel initially endured barrenness. Sarah did, Rebecca did and Rachel did. And like the other matriarchs, Rachel desperately wanted children and not to be saddled with the grief and shame that accompanies barrenness. Her desperation spilled over one day, prompting her to suggest that Jacob could do something beyond his power to do. His response was anger, telling her, “I’m not the one who can give you children. I can’t help you because it’s not within my power.”
Jewish commentary points out, however, that perhaps there was something that Jacob could have done. When Rebecca did not conceive the Bible says that Isaac interceded for her and that, soon after, Rebecca conceived. When Rachel did not conceive, there is nothing in the text that suggests Jacob prayed for Rachel as his father did for his mother. The difference, so say the rabbis, was that Isaac had only one wife; Jacob had two wives and Leah had already given him four sons. In other words, it is possible that he didn’t feel the intense need to pray for her and that is why the Bible records that Rachel prayed on her own behalf. It is also possible that this is why she felt the need to revert to Sarah’s methods –- giving her handmaid to her husband as a wife to conceive for her.
None of us should ever underestimate the power of prayer; we know that our Father will respond to the needs of His people and especially when His people are in pursuit of His will. Gleaning lessons from this scenario, I would point out to the gentlemen that you should never abdicate your responsibility to pray for your family, starting with your wife. You are the priest of the home whether you like it or not and whether you rise to the challenge or not. The course your family takes will be largely dictated by the choices you make.
So then, gentlemen, let us determine to lead our families in a way that pleases God and that brings order and purpose to our homes. Do not concede that responsibility to your wife just because she is more motivated that you are — get motivated. Ladies, if he is striving to serve God in this way, it is your duty to let him fulfill his duty. He may not be able to perform the miraculous but allow him the opportunity to do what God has challenged him to do. Lastly, pray for your spouse that they may live in the fullness of God’s purpose.
Blessings and Shalom,