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!” Genesis 30:1
Thus begins the telling of Rachel’s struggle with barrenness. You really need to read the whole chapter for the full details, but this is very typical of Rachel. As I mentioned earlier, Jacob does not pray for his wife so that she will be able to conceive as his father did for his mother. Still here we have Rachel and she does not even pray for herself. She has no relationship with God, and very little faith in Him. So she goes and argues with her husband about it and then asks him to sleep with her servant so that she can have children by her servant. This is not like Sarai asking Abram to sleep with Hagar, because Sarai was concerned about Abram not having an heir, this was something of a selfless gesture on her part. Rachel is, however, merely jealous, she wants to be vindicated over her sister, and she feels she is vindicated when her servant has a child (see Genesis 30:6).
It is not enough though, later she bargains with her sister Leah, for a mandrake root, something that was supposed to increase fertility. (See Genesis 30:14-15) See her track record? She does not pray once.
Even though she does not ever call out to God, God does remember her.
Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive. 23 She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, “God has taken away my disgrace.” 24 She named him Joseph, and said, “May the Lord add to me another son.” Genesis 30:22-24
Here Rachel is blessed with a child of her own, and she sees this child as a removal of disgrace. Moreover, she is looking past this child towards her next blessing, because she names him Joseph which means may the LORD add to me another son. She can’t even rejoice in having one child without immediately thinking of having another.
Later on in Genesis 35:16-18 Rachel does have a second son, and she died giving birth to him. She named her son Ben-Oni , meaning, son of my sorrow, and Jacob renamed him Benjamin, meaning, son of my right hand.
It is interesting to see how she claimed that she would die if she did not have children, but she died after she had children. God may have been protecting her by not giving her many children.
Am I being too hard on Rachel? She was only human after all. We all seem to need something physical to grasp onto, like her mandrake. Whether it is Clomid, or Femara, or nutrition, and acupuncture, we chase after things that will help increase our fertility. We deal with the feeling of despair. We would rather have our idols than a real relationship with God. We don’t understand what is going on, or why.
Still we need to remember this: That God knows what we are going through and he loves us, he has a purpose in this. He is not punishing us or depriving us of something by not giving us what we desire; He may be protecting us.
I will close with this song by Rich Mullins that sums up so perfectly how I feel sometimes.