There’s a whole lot going on in our Old Testament reading today and all kinds of people are under all kinds of stress: the stresses caused by someone else (as in Jacob’s case when Laban tricks him into marrying the wrong girl – the deceived gets deceived!); the stress that is no-one’s fault but their own (if Jacob will go and marry more than one girl he can only expect life to be a little tense from time to time); and then there is the stress that is just part of life (family tension, work, relationships, and in Rachel’s case the awful stress of not being able to get pregnant).
So all in all, a lot going on. And though today we’re probably not facing similar situations we can also find ourselves stressed out with other people, stressed out with ourselves and stressed out over the busy, awkward, painful, annoying stuff of everyday life. Everything from hurtful words, pressure to succeed, tricky relationships, annoying siblings, health problems, money worries and more – we’ve got lots on our plate and there isn’t always a lot we can do about it.
But in Genesis 30.22 we read that God remembered Rachel and she became pregnant. When it says that it doesn’t mean that she had been forgotten – the word “remember” in the bible means so much more than bringing someone or something back into mind. It means to show concern, to act with loving care. In the middle of this crazy, stressed out story we are reminded of a God who remembers, who sees, and loves and knows and cares. And in the midst of all the chaos we are reminded that it is only ever God who can make a real difference in our lives. Just as when Rachel is pleading with Jacob for a child, Jacob has to acknowledge that he isn’t God and the power is out of his hands (Genesis 30:1-2), in the middle of our stresses we must acknowledge our need of God.
In Matthew we read the beautiful invitation from Jesus; come to me all are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Whatever our stress today, God remembers us. Whatever is dragging us down, let’s take that weight to Jesus and ask for his help. Whatever is tiring us out, let’s take a moment to breathe and find our rest in Him.