I appreciate Rachel’s honesty. While struggling with infertility and watching her sister have multiple kids, she turns to her husband and says, “give me children or else I’ll die.”
Try filling in this blank: “If I don’t have ____, I think I’ll die.” Or how about: “If I never get____, I’ll be really upset at God.” For some of us, that blank is filled in with babies. But it could also be wanting a spouse, health, job, or the approval of specific people around us… That short sentence reveals a lot about what we love, and also what has become an idol in our heart- something we love more than God.
These things that we love are often not bad in themselves. But Jesus told us that we cannot serve 2 masters: we will end up devoted to one and despising the other. (Matthew 6:24) Is getting that thing more important to us than being more filled with God and loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength? The trouble comes in when our love for God is crowded out by our greater love for something else. (Matthew 22:36-38)
When we let our deep desires fog up our view of God as the most important, it’s easy to forget that God is enough to sustain us with life and joy- even if we never get that thing we desire.
“What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord,” Philippians 3:8
It’s easy for these idols to become an all-consuming focus that crowds out my love for God. (Revelation 2:4-5) But if God is my greatest priority, then my other priorities fit into their proper order. Only then my heart can be guided by peace, prayer and trust, instead of driven by fear and anxiety.
Sooo…. once Rachel got her baby, that was enough for her idolatry problem to be fixed, right? Check this out: Rachel did eventually have a baby, and she promptly said: “May God give me another son.” (Genesis 30:24)
Rachel got what she wanted, and it wasn’t enough. She still wanted more. I’m not saying it’s wrong to want another child, or to ask God for more of these good things- we should ask God. (And I’ve heard that having a child often eases the painful ache of primary or secondary infertility.) But it’s more of a warning to be careful. What strikes me as interesting is that Rachel’s heart could not be filled up by achieving her idol.
I write this as a caution to my own heart. Rachel’s story reminds me of God’s call to His people:
“For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” Jeremiah 2:13
“Ah, stubborn children, … who go down to Egypt without consulting me; who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection, to Egypt’s shade for refuge.” Isaiah 30:1-2
Am I looking for protection from life’s pain, and from my own sorrow, to come from having babies? Am I ignoring God’s offer of soul-satisfying peace, because I don’t want to take the time today to pray and study the Bible… and instead unwittingly wear myself out chasing after an idol that can never fully satisfy my soul? What about you?
What do you think will be the thing that if only you can attain that, it will solve your problems and quench the thirst and longing in your soul?
Only God can truly satisfy us. Everything else may be part of the good gifts He gives us. But we do ourselves harm (and it’s not fair to that person or thing we’re idolizing) when we replace God as first in our lives with something much weaker, something merely created by the God who calls us to trust Him alone.
Jesus is enough.
“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;” Isaiah 40:11