A Gift Held Lightly

Adam Navis

READ : Genesis 29:31–30:13

Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb? (v. 2)

In the Old Testament, when God blesses people he blesses them with children. The story of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel exemplifies this. The Lord opens Leah's womb (v. 31) and she gives birth. This is a sign that God has “looked upon my affliction” (v. 32) and “heard that I am hated” (v. 33). Then when Rachel complains to her husband, he concisely summarizes, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” (30:2).

While science and medicine have advanced since the days of Jacob, fertility (God's blessing) is still an idea we wrestle with. We might see a well-stocked retirement plan, or a good job, or a healthy body, or (like people in the Old Testament) we see a large and prosperous family as signs of God's favor and love. Does God reward us for doing good and punish us for doing evil? That's what Jesus' disciples thought when they asked about a blind man, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents?” (John 9:2). It's not that simple, he replied.

Children are a blessing. But they are not prizes to be earned; they are gifts to be received. Our bodies, our minds, our possessions, and our families are not signs of God's favor, but gifts of God's grace. I do not understand why some people have and some do not, but I know that everything we have belongs to God, even those people we treasure most.


Lord, thank you for all we have.