In Genesis chapter 29, we see one of the most heart wrenching love stories. This guy named Jacob falls in love with a girl named Rachel, so he goes to her dad, Laban, to get his blessing on their marriage. Now, I don’t know what the people who actually knew Laban would say, but he doesn’t exactly seem like the most reasonable guy in the world…
“So Jacob served seven years for Rachel…” What the what?! Puts men these days to shame. Seven years of service in order to marry the girl of your dreams! That’s pursuit. And yet, “”…they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.” (v.20) Awwww! Perfect response, Jakey.
So, Jacob worked for his woman and the big day finally came. But, basically the worst thing ever happened. Seriously, it would make for a killer chick-flick. At the end of the wedding, Jacob asked Laban for Rachel so that they could consummate their marriage. Unfortunately, Laban tricked Jacob and instead sent him his oldest daughter, Leah. (Younger sisters couldn’t get married before their older ones in this culture.) Needless to say, Jacob doesn’t actually consummate his marriage with Rachel, but with Leah. And then he has to work another seven years to get her. Talk about a plot twist and problems with your in-law’s.
However, even once they were married, things just kept getting worse. (As if that’s possible after sharing a husband with your sister…)
Jacob “loved Rachel more than Leah” (v. 30), which, as you can imagine, caused serious emotional trauma to poor Leah. Rachel was already “beautiful in form and appearance” (v. 17), so the fact that she was so desperately wanted by a man, that he was fighting so passionately for her, I’m sure it just left Leah’s self-esteem in the negative.
Leah thought that once her husband finally loved her, her inner turmoil would disappear.
As soon as she got pregnant the first time, she said it was because that is what it would take for her husband to truly love her.
“Because the Lord has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me” (v. 32)
It logically made sense that her pregnancy would be God’s way of making her husband fall in love with her, especially since God had intentionally closed the womb of Rachel when He saw how Leah was hated. (v. 31) It was all adding up perfectly, yet nothing changed.
She got pregnant a second time, still no change. You’ve gotta hand it to her, this girl did not give up hope. She was convinced during her third pregnancy that the third time would be the charm. “Now, this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have born him three sons” (v. 34)
As you probably assumed, an extra child thrown into the mix didn’t exactly do the trick. Jacob was still madly in love with Rachel and felt no different towards Leah.
What’s amazing, though, is that it was actually the fourth child that brought about change. Not in the way Jacob felt towards Leah, but in the way Leah felt towards God. Her circumstances didn’t change, she did.
“This time I will praise the Lord.” (v. 35)
Everything shifted for her.
She thought her answered prayers of conception were God providing a way out of the situation she so desperately hated, but when her circumstances didn’t end up answering her prayers for her husband to love her, she realized that the purpose behind them was in fact to draw her near to Him, not him.
Leah named her fourth baby Judah, meaning “praised”.
The lineage of Jesus can be traced back to the tribe of Judah, which really means it can be traced back to the lonely girl nobody wanted who always felt like the second choice and desired nothing more than to be loved.
She was loved. She was chosen. So, so chosen. Her baby started a family line that would bring forth the baby that would save the world.
I wonder what God whispered to Leah’s heart between that third and fourth child.
Between, “Now this time my husband will be attached to me” and “This time I will praise the Lord.” (v. 34 & 35)
When Leah saw the fragility of human love, she began to understand the solidness of God’s love.
When he didn’t love her back, He did. And it rocked her world in a way she never would’ve known if her prayers had been answered the way she thought they should be.