Genesis 35:16-19/27-28: Loss.
“Then they moved on from Bethel. While they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and had great difficulty. 17 And as she was having great difficulty in childbirth, the midwife said to her, “Don’t despair, for you have another son.” 18 As she breathed her last—for she was dying—she named her son Ben-Oni. But his father named him Benjamin.19 So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).”
“27 Jacob came home to his father Isaac in Mamre, near Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had stayed. 28 Isaac lived a hundred and eighty years. ” NIV
‘Human life begins with sorrow, and the roses of its joy are surrounded with thorns.’ Matthew Henry.
Walking in the will of God, as it seems Jacob was now doing, may bring blessings of many kinds, and most of all a wonderful experience with God. But it will not prevent the inevitable brushes with death, grief and loss. We all must face these at some time or other. Bereavement comes to us all. ‘Death is the ultimate statistic,’ someone said. ‘One out of one dies.’ There is a time to be born and a time to die. God does not promise to shield us from these harsh realities, but we know that He will walk with us through them. In a chapter which is full of blessings, we note these significant losses for Jacob: the deaths of Deborah, Rachel and Isaac.
I believe C.S. Lewis said something like this: ‘The pain of grief we feel after losing someone is a part of the price we pay for loving.’ We want to know the joy, but not the sorrow. This is understandable, but the truth is that however abundantly we are blessed by God, death will intrude into our lives at some point. We will lose loved ones; we ourselves must die. However, we can take heart from knowing that Jesus died and rose again. In and through Him we conquer death, and, finally, all will be well.
‘Lest Jacob should be lifted up with the visions of the Almighty with which he was honoured, this was sent as a thorn in the flesh to humble him. Those that enjoy the favours peculiar to the children of God must yet expect the troubles that are common to the children of men.’ Matthew Henry