What should we do when the rich and powerful are hurting?

Jacob was a wealthy man who had many children and was blessed by God. Because of his possessions, it is easy to assume that his life was easy; however, he actually had several painful experiences during his life. As you read about some of his experiences, ask yourself if you know someone who is hurting on the inside even though they appear to have a great life.

Genesis 29 tells us that Jacob loved Rachel.

Gen. 29:18 Now Jacob loved Rachel, so he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.”

Gen. 29:20 So Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her.

Gen. 29:30 So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and indeed he loved Rachel more than Leah, and he served with Laban for another seven years.

For several years, Rachel had not been able to have children. She finally was able to conceive, but Genesis 35 tells us she had difficulty giving birth to her second son and she died during childbirth.

Gen. 35:16 ¶ Then they journeyed from Bethel; and when there was still some distance to go to Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and she suffered severe labor.

Gen. 35:17 When she was in severe labor the midwife said to her, “Do not fear, for now you have another son.”

Gen. 35:18 It came about as her soul was departing (for she died), that she named him Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.

Gen. 35:19 So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).

Gen. 35:20 Jacob set up a pillar over her grave; that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave to this day.

Again, Jacob loved Rachel, but Rachel died during childbirth. Because Jacob loved Rachel, we can assume that her death was very painful to him.

After Rachel’s death, Jacob was betrayed by his son.

Gen. 35:21 Then Israel journeyed on and pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder.

Gen. 35:22 ¶ It came about while Israel was dwelling in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine, and Israel heard of it.
¶ Now there were twelve sons of Jacob —

Gen. 35:23 the sons of Leah: Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, then Simeon and Levi and Judah and Issachar and Zebulun;

Gen. 35:24 the sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin;

Gen. 35:25 and the sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s maid: Dan and Naphtali;

Gen. 35:26 and the sons of Zilpah, Leah’s maid: Gad and Asher. These are the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-aram.

The Bible doesn’t tell us much about Jacob’s reaction to Reuben’s action, but it seems logical to assume that Reuben’s action was painful to Jacob.

The next few verses tell us that Jacob’s father died.

Gen. 35:27 ¶ Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre of Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had sojourned.

Gen. 35:28 ¶ Now the days of Isaac were one hundred and eighty years.

Gen. 35:29 Isaac breathed his last and died and was gathered to his people, an old man of ripe age; and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

The Bible doesn’t tell us how much time elapsed between each of these three events; these events could have happened around the same time, or there could have been many years between events. Either way, Jacob was wealthy and had many children, so it may appear that he had a great life; however, he had several life experiences that made his life painful.

Do you know of anyone who is experiencing something like this right now? Do you know of anyone who appears to have a life of leisure but is actually hurting inside due to loss? More importantly, do you know what you should do? Consider the following verses.

Eccl. 7:2 It is better to go to a house of mourning
Than to go to a house of feasting,
Because that is the end of every man,
And the living takes it to heart.

Eccl. 7:4 The mind of the wise is in the house of mourning,
While the mind of fools is in the house of pleasure.

James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

When someone is hurting, it is important for us to be there. There verses don’t give us a list of things to do, they simply tell us to be there. These verses don’t distinguish between those who are poor and those who are wealthy. Just because someone is wealthy doesn’t mean they don’t hurt when they lose a spouse, a parent, or a child. Wealthy people need to be comforted when they mourn just as poor people do. The verses also tell us what our priorities in life should be. Comforting those who are hurting is more important than pleasure. As human beings, we naturally want our days to be filled with fun, leisure, and pleasure; however, these verses tell us that wise and religious people give priority to those who are hurting and mourning. Going to a funeral isn’t fun and it seems like a little thing, but to the person who lost a loved one, that simple act can be very comforting and encouraging.


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“Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.”