"All the people who were at the gate and the elders replied, "We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is entering your home like Rachel and Leah, both of whom built up the house of Israel! May you prosper in Ephrathah and become famous in Bethlehem. May your family become like the family of Perez -- whom Tamar bore to Judah -- through the descendants the Lord gives you by this young woman." Ruth 4:11
Rachel and Leah were sisters who both married their cousin Jacob. As we look at their story, we see a rivalry between these two that went on for a number of years. Jacob had always planned to only marry Rachel, but was tricked at the time of the wedding by their father and actually married Leah instead. Their father then promised to allow Jacob to also marry Rachel which then led to both sisters being married to the same man (I'm definitely sharing the short version here -- the fully story can be found in the book of Genesis beginning around chapter 29).
Leah knew that Rachel was the sister that Jacob really loved. But, while Rachel struggled with infertility, Leah bore many children. With these two issues in front of them always, they were constantly competing for Jacob's attentions. Rachel feared her inability to conceive would cause Jacob to turn away from her and Leah feared Jacob would turn from her since it was Rachel that he truly loved. Rachel came up with a plot for her to give her maid to Jacob as his third wife to obtain more children of her own. Leah thought if she continued to give children to Jacob that would secure her of Jacob's attentions. So, when Leah could no more have children, she gave her maid to Jacob as his fourth wife to bear additional children. The total of all these children was thirteen - one daughter and twelve sons.
Tamar is also mentioned in the scripture above. Her story can be found in Genesis 38. Tamar was married to Er, the eldest son of Judah. God killed Er because he was wicked leaving Tamar widowed. As was the custom at the time, Judah asked his other son Onan to sleep with Tamar to provide a child that would be the offspring of Er. Onan found a way around this which led to his killing, as well. What we see happening later in the story after Judah's wife died is Judah looking for a prostitute and being presented with one that he later learned was Tamar. He then later learned that their one time together had impregnated Tamar with his children, twin sons that were born several months later.
In both of these stories we see pain and deception, greed and hatred. Yet, God used them in great ways in fulfilling his ultimate plan. One of Rachel's sons was Joseph who was sold into slavery by his older brothers, a story that shows us how even though we may have incredibly difficult times in our lives, God still leads us to great things. The sons of Rachel, Leah, and their maids went on to be the leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel. Tamar bore a son that was in the lineage of Jesus.
And, as we see in these scriptures in Ruth, none of these women are remembered for their wrongdoings. Rachel and Leah were remembered for being the founding mothers of a great nation. Tamar for being the mother of Perez, the twin son that was in the lineage of King David and Jesus.
God takes our weaknesses and our misguided efforts and turns them to good. He takes them and uses them to fulfill His purposes. While it doesn't make our actions "OK", it does say so much about the mighty God we serve! None of us are perfect and we all have fallen short, but what a mighty witness we can be if we turn those shortcomings over to God and allow Him to work in and thru them!
As I think and pray on all of this I am left wondering what wrongs I have done that I can give to God to use for good? How can I take something that is definitely a shortcoming on my part, learn from it, and then help others struggling with the exact same thing?
Lord, please show me your ways. Show me where I have failed You and where I can use that failure to be a light in the world for You." Amen.