Sibling rivalry. Feelings of envy, anger, and devastation. The striving for contentment.
This was Leah’s story.
Many of you are probably familiar with her story in Genesis. Compared to her younger sister, Rachel, Leah wasn’t considered beautiful. She had “weak eyes.” And when Jacob wandered on to the scene as an eligible bachelor for one of Laban’s daughters, it wasn’t a surprise that he desired to take Rachel as his wife.
However, Laban tricked Jacob into marrying Leah. The moment Jacob discovered this, he was furious. He voiced his anger with Laban, and was granted Rachel as his second wife shortly afterwards.
It’s at this point that I believe we overlook a significant moment for Leah.
As we can see in Genesis 29, Leah desired her husband’s approval and love above all else. I can’t imagine how badly she must have craved it, how it must have devastated her to see the affection her sister received from Jacob.
In this grief, she attempted to mend her pain through the birth of her sons. With her first pregnancy, Leah said this: “…surely my husband will love me now” (v. 32).
But Leah did not find her husband’s favor, nor contentment, in this birth. After the birth of her second son, she said the following: “…Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too” (v. 33).
Perhaps she would receive Jacob’s affection this time? Yet, Leah’s response to her third pregnancy proves otherwise: “…Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons” (v. 34).
For three pregnancies, Leah sought her husband’s love above all else.
I understand that most of us younger women have never been married. But I’m sure that some of you can relate to one of these; I know I can.
Maybe we’ve never been in a relationship, and there is a battle within our hearts and minds as we see constant engagement posts from friends on Instagram. We wonder how all these women can be getting married, when we’re years older and have never been on a date.
Maybe we’re single or in a relationship. But as we look to our past, we see broken relationship after broken relationship. We ask ourselves, “where did we go wrong?” as we are left to sweep up the broken pieces.
Maybe we’re single, but just recently. Perhaps a promising relationship, or even an engagement, has just ended. We thought our future had finally been planned — that the fear of “being single for years” was finally gone. Yet, we find ourselves in panic as we go back to square one.
Maybe we’re in a relationship. We assure everyone that we aren’t finding our identity and worth in our boyfriend. But if we had to break up with him, we’d be more devastated with the prospect of loneliness than with actually missing him.
Leah faced the same emotions that we struggle with today. But we can see that something suddenly changed for Leah after her fourth pregnancy: “She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, ‘this time I will praise the Lord’…” (v. 35).
No longer did Leah find her identity and value in her husband. Despite the emotions she wrestled with, she was able to overlook those and finally see that contentment was found in Christ.
I’m not saying that Leah’s struggles disappeared; she may have battled these negative emotions for years past this. She also struggled with envy and jealously with Rachel following this.
But she didn’t allow her emotions to dictate her attitude towards her identity.
If it’s God’s desire for us to marry one day, we can find contentment in the special work that He has for us to do during our time of singleness. And if we’re in a relationship, we can find true satisfaction through our identity in Christ, not an identity solely invested in a man.
Regardless of what our relationship status is, we can have an attitude like Leah’s. In moments of sadness, fear, or bitterness, we can turn our eyes towards heaven.
And this time, we can praise the Lord.