Does God Play Favorites?

One early evening while preparing supper, I overheard an exchange of whispers coming from the family room. My two oldest girls were discussing which one of them should come to me to “plead their case.”

“No, you go ask Momma; she always says yes to you.”

“Is that so?” I asked as I sprang into the room where two surprised, rose-cheeked little girls quickly turned from my gaze. After a moment’s hesitation, the burning question was put to me, which I promptly answered. But the really important question, in my mind,  still lingered. So, taking my older daughter aside, I asked, “Why wouldn’t you just ask me? Do you actually think that my answer would be different for you than for your sister?” 

To that, she replied, “Well, it just seems like you say ‘yes’ when she wants something, but you always say ‘no’ when I want something.” Needless to say, I did my best to assure her that responding differently to their requests did not mean that I loved one more than the other; there were a lot of different things I had to consider, primarily because they are different. So yes, sometimes my responses are not the same. (It’s complicated, right?) 

Cleaning the kitchen that night, I tried to recall the past week’s events.

Had I shown favoritism to one daughter in particular? Perhaps unintentionally, or even worse, did I secretly harbor greater affection for one than the other? Was my daughter’s perspective accurate or skewed? I mean, she’s young and doesn’t take into account all that her requests entail, like timing or circumstances or costs. Always? I don’t always say no.

Later, I recounted the day’s conversation to my husband, hurt that she would even think such a thing about me, her mother. “I love her, and if I say ‘no,’ it was to help her not hurt her,” I explained (not that he needed an explanation).

As soon as the words had escaped my mouth, the Lord gently reminded me—how many times had I questioned if He played favorites? 

Why did the Lord answer my friend’s prayers according to what she asked, but not mine?

Why does life seem always to go her way, when I can’t seem to catch a break? 

Does God love her more than He loves me?

The story of Rachel and Leah in Genesis 29-30 is heartbreaking; the script reads like an Old Testament soap opera.They were sisters married to the same man, Jacob. Rachael, the younger and fairer (prettier) sister, experienced the love and attention of her husband; yet, she felt unfulfilled and disgraced because she was barren. On the other hand, Leah, whom Jacob had been duped into marrying first, bore many children, which was highly valued in her culture; however, she lived without her husband’s love or affection. God blessed each woman at different times in different ways without playing favorites. He answered each woman’s prayer according to His will and for His glory. The Lord had different plans for Rachel and Leah, plans that for both sisters entailed sorrow and grief, happiness and joy. The sons born to Leah and eventually to Rachel became the twelve tribes of Israel, whose role in Old Testament history and New Testament redemption are beyond measure. 

I do not know why certain people seem to have it all while others struggle. I John 4:8 tell us that God is love. That said, neither God nor His love can be measured in human terms. God’s ways are clearly not our ways.His plan to fulfill His purpose and bring glory to Himself through us is unique for each of us. Although we may feel like we’ve been “dealt a lousy hand” in life, the Lord always works for our good and His glory. His dealings with us are never random or arbitrary, for He is sovereign, righteous and just. 

Time on earth, in this corruptible body, is often fraught with suffering and difficulty and seems to be downright unfair. So we ask, “Why? Why me, Lord?”  Yes, it is sometimes difficult to understand how His answers to our prayers accomplish His good purpose for us, but that is why He’s sovereign LORD, and we are not. By shifting our focus from what is seen (answered prayers or visible blessings) to what is unseen (2 Corinthians 4:18), we demonstrate our trust in God’s sovereignty, wisdom and goodness. Remember, Jesus, the Lion of Judah, descended from the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5). In time, God gave Rachel and Jacob sons (Joseph and Benjamin), but it was a rejected and scorned Leah who bore Judah, not her sister, whom Jacob loved. 
Our Heavenly Father knows every straight or winding path that we take. On the brink of perishing alone in the desert, a despised Hagar realized that God was there, looking after her. He was a God who saw her in that very dire situation (Genesis 16:7-16). And that is true for each of us as we live and breathe. He sees and hears you and me. Moreover, God is not willing that one of us should perish, which is why He sent His only son to die and give eternal life to all who believe in Christ (John 3:16). In glory, Jesus, the Lion of Judah, will wipe away all our tears (Revelation 21:4). Until then, trust the Lord and be at peace knowing that nothing can separate us from the deep and unfathomable love the Lord has for each one of us (Ephesians 3:14-21).

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