Leah lived a life that absolutely no one would choose. Although she was the older sister, she lived in the shadow of her younger sister, Rachel. Rachel was more beautiful, more desirable and more attractive than Leah was. Rachel was simply everything that Leah was not and yet longed to be.
A handsome young man, Jacob, arrived at the ranch of their father, Laban, one day and he fell instantly and head over heels in love with the younger and more appealing Rachel! Of course he did—Rachel was known far and wide for her beauty while Leah was only known for her weak eyes.
You know the story. Although Jacob asked for Rachel's hand in marriage and worked seven years to earn it, Laban tricked Jacob at the last minute and gave him the weak-eyed Leah rather than the comely Rachel.
Jacob then worked another seven years so that he could finally live with and love the woman of his dreams. Jacob was now married to two women and had opened the door of dysfunction and competition even wider in this ancient family.
"So Jacob also had relations with Rachel, and he loved Rachel more than Leah and served Laban another seven years" (Gen. 29:30).
Rachel was beautiful and loved; Leah was unloved and neglected.
"When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren" (Gen. 29:31).
There was one aspect of married life in which Leah won the war of sibling rivalry, and that was in the area of fertility. Rachel was unable to conceive a child but Leah was the human baby machine! She produced four sons in quick succession for her husband, Jacob.
How I love knowing that the Lord sees me in my human pain! I serve a God who does not neglect me when others do. I am the daughter of the Most High King, who chooses me when others reject me. The Lord who saw Leah also sees me!
"Leah conceived and gave birth to a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, 'Surely the Lord has looked upon my affliction. Now therefore my husband will love me'" (Gen. 29:32).
Leah was so deeply immersed in her own human pain and understandable rejection that she named her first son out of her torturous disappointment. Rather than acknowledging the fact that God had blessed her, she was paralyzed by her issues of pain and rejection.
"She conceived again and gave birth to a son and said, 'Because the Lord has heard that I was unloved, He has therefore given me this son also.' Then she called his name Simeon" (Gen. 29:33).
Leah's focus continued to be on the fact that she was unloved by her husband. Leah was expecting her husband to give to her what only God is able to give to a woman. Leah once again named her legacy after her discouragement and disappointment.
"She conceived again and gave birth to a son and said, 'Now this time my husband will be joined to me, because I have borne him three sons.' Therefore his name was called Levi" (Gen. 29:34).
Leah falsely believed that only her husband was able to solve her emotional issues and continued to cry out in profound humiliation and rejection. Her third son did not carry a name of victory but once again, Leah defined her legacy by what she didn't have rather than with what she had been blessed with.
"She conceived again and gave birth to a son, and she said, 'Now I will praise the Lord!' Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she stopped giving birth" (Gen. 29:35).
Leah's words after the birth of her fourth son are the first time that praise is mentioned in the Bible. An unloved, rejected and disappointed woman decided that it was time for her to praise the Lord! If Leah can do it, so can you!
Worship will always take your eyes off your human pain and will place your focus on the God who makes all things new. When Leah decided to praise the Lord, she gave birth to a son from whose lineage would come the Messiah.
When a man or a woman chooses to praise the Lord despite human pain and disappointment, the impact is felt for generations to come. Praise becomes part of a family's bloodline and invades even their DNA in a miraculous way. Leah's great-great-great grandson was David, who wrote most of the majestic Psalms. Would David have been the man he became if Leah had not made the choice to worship in spite of her wretched emotional pain?
If you long to live beyond your years and give a great gift to the world, you will declare with Leah, "This time I will praise the Lord!"
Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. She has written five books, including No More Ordinary, Holy Estrogen!, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart and Defiant Joy! Her most recent book, Refined: Finding Joy in the Midst of the Fire, was released last August. Her teaching DVD, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart, won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming. You can also listen to Carol's "Jolt of Joy" program daily on the Charisma Podcast Network. Connect with Carol or inquire about her speaking to your group at justjoyministries.com.
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