Simply the Bible Blog

Daily Devotion and Podcast

Genesis 35:16-29 “Birth & Death, Joy & Sorrow”

“Rachel was about to die, but with her last breath she named the baby Ben-oni (which means ‘son of my sorrow’). The baby’s father, however, called him Benjamin (which means ‘son of my right hand’).”

Genesis 35:18 (NLT)

In Biblical times it was common to name one’s child according to the circumstances of his or her birth. As Rachel was giving birth to her second son, she knew that she was dying, so she named him “son of my sorrow”. Rachel could not see beyond her own pain and grief. But Jacob looked at the situation differently. No doubt he was deeply sorrowful over the death of his beloved Rachel. But he saw that this boy was the son of his right hand. Probably, knowing what it was like to bear the name “heel catcher” all his life, Jacob did not want his son to carry the reminder that he was the cause of this mother’s grief and death. But this gives us a model for dealing with the circumstances of our own lives.

We cannot control what happens to us from one day to the next. In the words of Solomon, time and chance happen to us all (Ecclesiastes 9:11). But we can determine how we react. We can get upset and complain about our lot in life. We can hold it inside and become anxious, depressed or bitter. Or we can accept life’s circumstances as coming from the hand of Providence and make the best of them. We can take the Ben-onis of our lives and make them Benjamins. We can realize that events of joy and sorrow are superintended by the One who has promised never to leave or forsake us. And His grace is sufficient to deal with each one.

“Heavenly Father, thank you for being sovereign over the events of our lives. Even in our times of sorrow, help us to find reasons to rejoice in you. And in our times of joy, help us to be thankful for your good and perfect gifts. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.”

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