Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”Genesis 29:32 (NIV)
Perhaps there’s no story in the whole Bible more poignant than that of Leah … the girl who was used by her father and who was basically unloved by her husband. At least, I’ve always felt that Leah’s story was a sad one.
Leah watched as her sister, Rachel, flirted with Jacob. She watched as they courted. She saw the secret glances they stole at each other when they thought no one else was looking. She watched in admiration (and maybe a little jealousy) the way Jacob worked for seven years just so he could marry Rachel.
Then her father came, just hours before her sister’s wedding. He shoved the bridal clothes at Leah, demanding she slip into them and marry Jacob in her sister’s place.
The next morning, she could hear Jacob shouting at her uncle, demanding to know why he’d been betrayed. Then, seven years later, Jacob finally married Rachel, the sister he truly loved. And Leah had to wonder where that left her.
But God had the answer to all her questions … He always does.
Leah was trapped in a loveless marriage, but God saw her misery. He sent her a son, and she named him Reuben. She was certain that now her husband would love her. In doing so, she made the mistake of placing her sense of worth in her husband and her children, rather than God – the one who had given her both, and even her very life. That’s why she spent years feeling so empty as she chased after Jacob.
But somewhere along the way, Leah accepted her true identity as a favored daughter of God. She understood that God loved her unconditionally, and she let His love fill her with peace and joy.
She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.Genesis 29:35 (NIV)
At least, she stopped having children for a while. We know that she had five more children after Judah – four more sons of Jacob, and his daughter Dinah. Leah may have been unloved by her husband, but she was favored by God in motherhood.
Her sister only had two sons. And neither one of those was the ancestor of God’s promised Messiah. Leah’s son Judah was.
God saw Leah’s her pain. He knew all that she had been through. And He used it all for her good (and for the good of the rest of us throughout history too) … and, of course, for His glory.
God, help me to remember my worth does not come from my relationships. Like Leah, let me rest in You, content with the knowledge that I am Your beloved child…and You will work everything that happens in my life out for Your glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.