Tears streaming down her face, she peeked through the tent to watch him just a moment more. Her heart overflowing with desire to be loved by the man she adored, Leah watched as Jacob grabbed Rachel from behind in what seemed to be fun, romantic play. His arms wrapped around her sister, head falling into the crook of her small neck. The love Jacob had for Rachel was displayed openly for everyone to see and witness, while he never once noticed her.
Closing the curtain, Leah’s knees gave way to the sandy floor. The pain of remembering her wedding night with Jacob was too much to bear. In her own deception, Leah willingly submitted to her father’s request to deceive Jacob, but that one night continued to haunt her. His passion, thinking she was Rachel, was unforgettable. Leah knew Jacob loved Rachel, worked seven long years for her, but never did she expect that wedding night to be what it was. The desire, the love, the tender words he expressed, and held for seven years seethed through him; the night was forever etched into her mind as to how much a man could love a woman. How could she forget such fervent wanting, but now Jacob only looked at her with distain for her deception and lackluster; the tears continued to flow, as the sobs shook her body. Leah was forever married to man who did not love her.
My first remembrance of “love” awakened during my middle school years. There was a young man, who was older than myself, my heart adored. This young man was a friend of my older sister. He did not know I existed, for his eyes and heart were only for her.
For three years, during those early tweens, I thought, saw, and talked to this young man daily, he never being the wiser to my own heart. Never once did he ever look at me as he did my sister. When writing this chapter for Leah, the Lord reminded me of my youthful heart, which never experienced the “love” in return from a certain handsome boy who adored my sister.
During a late afternoon, waiting for the bell to release my eighth grade class from school, I watched from the window as my “secret love” walked home from the High School bus stop. A voice startled me when it spoke, “Why don’t you just tell him how you feel?” I jumped, turning to find a friend of mine standing next to me, interrupting my daydreaming. I could never have told my handsome man the truth, for his love would never be with me.
I smile as I write this because those years are so dramatic for adolescence, but can lay a foundation for wrong thinking later. For example, knowing I would never have the affection from the young lad I desired, my mind began a cycle of wrong thinking. From those young years to my return to the church, if rejected by a man or potential suitor, I would feel as if I was not pretty enough, sophisticated enough, thin enough, smart enough, or what men wanted. I spent years going through this cycle until the Lord began to show His love for me. “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” “You are an adopted daughter through Christ.” “You are here for a purpose; I have a great plan for you.”
As a young tween, I attended church, but never fully contemplated the relationship I could have with Christ. Comparing myself to others, manipulating situations and people to “love” me, making others feel guilty if they hurt my feelings, and demanding my own way revealed I had a very low self-esteem of myself. The enemy had truly deceived me. The Lord began to teach me His Word and what He says about me.
Leah is described in the Bible as “having weak and dull eyes, but Rachel was beautiful and attractive.” (Genesis 29:17). As you can see, dysfunctional family stereotypes were assigned very early on in history. There are many in families who are considered the “more attractive”, the “more athletic”, “smarter”, “the funny one”, “the shy one”, “the middle one”, the “aggressive one”, etc. I think you get the picture, so you can only imagine Leah’s perception of herself. A low-self esteem, compared to the “pretty one”, Leah, with her weak eyes, must have felt the desire to be noticed.
I will admit, I asked my husband what he though, “weak and dull eyes” meant. I have my own opinion, but I do think asking the opposite sex what he thinks adds to this chapter. Tommy’s response…..boring! “She doesn’t sound like a lot of fun.” Maybe Leah was the quiet, more reserved one, while Rachel had a little spunk in her. Rachel may have been more playful, fun, and energetic. The Bible does give us somewhat of an insight into Leah’s desire for Jacob, a man whom only had eyes for Rachel.
From Genesis 29-35, the dramatic and somewhat disturbing details of this family are displayed for all to read. Leah’s father, Laban, has connived a scheme to marry her. Laban, a cunning man who has used Jacob for seven years in profit for his land’s bounty, has twisted the betrothal of Rachel to his benefit. Jacob, the king of deception, is married to a veiled young woman whom he believes is Rachel. After a passionate wedding night, he awakens to find not his love, but Leah!
According to Laban, he cannot rightfully marry his beautiful second daughter before the weak eyed Leah. Here begins the foundation of Leah, the “unloved wife”, while Jacob’s love for Rachel is evident. When God opens Leah’s womb for children because she is unloved, the sordid tale of rivalry ignites. From Rachel’s jealousy of barrenness, to giving her maid for Jacob’s seed, to Leah’s bitterness demanding Jacob sleep with her for “mandrakes” or fruit, which promotes pregnancies, this disreputable behavior has no boundaries! What is most interesting, Jacob never seems to say NO to the sister contention.
My heart aches every time I read Leah naming her children, “And when the Lord saw that Leah was despised, He made her able to bear children, but Rachel was barren. And Leah became pregnant and bore a son and named him Reuben or ‘See, a son’!; for she said, ‘because the Lord has seen my humiliation and affliction; now my husband will love me.’
Leah became pregnant again and bore a son and said, ‘because the Lord heard that I am despised, He has given me this son also; and she named him Simeon, God hears. And she became pregnant again and bore a son and said ‘Now this time will my husband be a companion to me, for I have borne him three sons. Therefore he was named Levi, or companion. Again, she conceived and bore a son, and she said, ‘Now will I praise the Lord! So she called his name Judah, praise; then for a time she ceased bearing.” (Genesis 29:31-35).
When our inner self is wrapped up in another person, our own agenda, our own desires, our own wants, our own ambitions, we will never be content with our situations.
To live this life God has given us, for as long as He deems fit, we as Christians live in a world where status, money, positions, power, and acknowledgement rule supreme. What happens when we do not achieve that “dream”? What happens when life comes crashing down, our own desires are never met, having a void in our hearts that can not be filled with either love, “stuff”, money, or position? Where do we go from here?
Our identity needs to be found in Christ alone. Paul wrote to the Philippians, “for I learned to be content in whatever state I am. I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want. I have strength for all things in Christ who empowers me.” (Philippians 4:11-13) This includes rejection from those we so desire approval or love from.
John 2:25 reads, “And He (Jesus) did not need anyone to bear witness concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in human nature.” Jesus knew the heart of man and your heart is very precious to God. If you have scars from rejection, hurt, shame, humiliation, and embarrassment, God can mend it. The Lord loves you and His promise is to never leave you nor forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6).
We can never put man’s love and approval before God. Leah desired Jacob’s approval so much, she lost sight of praising God until her 4th son. But, God can use any situation and turn it to good, for Leah never imagined God’s priests coming from her son Levi or God’s son Jesus of Nazareth in the lineage of Judah!
Laban took something away from Leah, love. She would never know the love of a husband, she would never know the love of a father to her children, she would never know the love of her own father for she was used as a pawn, cast off for her “weak eyes” and common look. But, that is not how God saw her.
God used this woman in His history of the Israelite people and His son Jesus. He saw her “unloved, despised” situation and blessed her. You may asked, “Why did God not bless her with a man who loved her?” You have asked the same question I have. I know of several cases where the husband has left the “unloved” wife for worldly enticements. These women are left as single moms to raise boys (all have boys ironically), just as Leah raised hers. We live in a different time and culture than when Leah raised her boys. Cultural shame would have left in her in a more difficult situation than the one she was in.
My heart is for those women who have no idea what love is; women used, cast off, rejected, and left alone. But, there is hope in Christ, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last! The Lord loves you and has a plan for you.
Love is a word we toss around today which many are confused with the meaning. This is not Leah’s obsessive love for what she could not have, but the love of a Father who desires the best for His children. This is not a love, which manipulates situations and deceives as Leah, but a love far reaching for telling Truth, protections, and providing. Finally, this is not a love which gives the best, more intimate portions away as Leah and Rachel gave Jacob to sleep with their maids for children, but God’s love is honest, deep, and knows are most intimate details of our lives. This is a love, which sacrificed life for you.
My prayer is you seek this love; not man’s interpretation of “fleeting” love or “infatuated” love, but a true love, which formed and molded you for a purpose; a love that has given you gifts and talents to do great things with. A love which will never leave, reject, abandon, or shame you. This is the love of Christ!
Let us pray out loud and CONFESS the Word of the Living God; a prayer against worldly lust and God’s forgiveness, redemption
When I look in the mirror, I see before me all my imperfections. I see rejection, abandonment, and disregard. I do not see love. Father, teach me to see myself with Your eyes, not as the world sees, but to love my beautiful features You’ve created. Help me to remember that the world considered Jesus, “who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God, did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained, but stripped Himself of all privileges and rightful dignity, so as to assume the guise of a servant, in that He became like men and was born a human being” (Philippians 2:6-7), and “He had no form or comeliness that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him” (Isaiah 53:2).
Please keep me from being envious, desiring, or coveting what another sister of mine looks like, money, intelligence, a husband/boyfriend, house, car, clothes, jewelry, job, friends, or children. Help me not mimic, copy, or pretend to have another’s gifts and talents, for You have given to each one their own unique gifts (Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:24-31).
Give me a hunger and a thirst for righteousness (Psalm 63). A strive to be a woman after Your own heart; my purpose to pursue the things of God and not the things of this world (Colossians 3:2). For now, You are my husband (Ephesians 5:31-32), Father (Romans 8:15), Teacher (Psalm 25), Comforter (John 14:16-18), Protector (Psalm 91), Provider (Luke 12:24), and Friend (John 15:15)! The Man of my dreams; if I am rejected, cast aside, tossed away, or disregarded in any manner, I WILL recall Yeshua was also despised, rejected and hated, but chose to love and forgive (Isaiah 53:3, Luke 23:34, 1 Corinthians 13:1-8).
I will choose Your ways over mine and walk Your path over my own. Whether I stand alone with You or have others by my side, I know I am always loved, accepted, and cherished by You, my beautiful King. Thank You, Jesus, for forming us in the womb, adopting us unto You, putting our names on Your hand, collecting our tears in a bottle, knowing each hair on my head, and making a place for me in Heaven. Your death on the cross was not in vain, for I am crucified with Christ, picking up my cross and carrying it daily; it is not me, but Christ who lives in me! In the name of Jesus of Nazareth I pray, amen.
Read more with the Women of the Bible on our Resource Page. Find Leah in Book 3 of the One a Day Series!