“And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel.
Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured.”-Genesis 29:16-17
“I don’t want to be like Leah,” I told my mom once.
She called me dramatic, she told me that Leah was more than what I thought of her.
To me, Leah was a failure. She wasn’t just a second choice, she was never a choice, she was never even a thought to Jacob. She was merely a bitter disappointment when Jacob had found out he had been tricked into marrying her in the morning.
Unwanted, that’s how I thought of her. Poor, dejected Leah.
However, I went back and read through the other day and found the side of Leah that I had overlooked.
She didn’t seem to live a happy life, used as a pawn to her father, forced into a loveless marriage with a man who never wanted her, and second-best to her beautiful sister, Rachel. At first, Leah tried to find love by having children:
“And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.
And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the Lord hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me.
And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the Lord hath heard I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also: and she called his name Simeon.
And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons: therefore was his name called Levi.” -Gen. 29:31-34
The meaning of the names of her children struck me, the meanings behind them, the desperation Leah must have felt in trying to earn a place for herself.
With each name, we see her wants:
Levi: Joined to.
Leah wanted to be acknowledged, heard, needed, and loved.
Can you blame her? We all want those things deep down.
Maybe we aren’t trying to win the love of a husband tricked into marrying us, but we still silently want love and acceptance from the people around us, we all want to feel wanted.
When it comes to our relationships with others we wonder, do I belong? How can I belong? Am I needed here or would they not even notice if I was missing?
I’ve met many girls and guys who are pining for a significant other, someone to love them.
The search for a place and a purpose in life is not a new one, and so often people find themselves in circumstances where they feel like the answer to “am I acknowledged, heard, needed, and loved?” would be a “no”. How discouraging and heartbreaking it is to feel unwanted and unneeded, and how easy it is to make finding those things our first priority in life.
Leah wanted to be valued, and while I read, I realized the quiet strength Leah had as she realized that she was already valued, she already had worth.
“And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the Lord: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing.”-Genesis 29:35
“Now will I praise the Lord.”
No longer does she mention Jacob in the naming of her child, only God, the One who saw, heard, held, and loved her from the start. He is the one she acknowledges now.
While the drama seems to continue in the next chapter, I’d like to think that Leah really did realize the truth of her value.
Leah might have been felt like she was put in second place in her life, but she was never a second choice to God, no one is.
Leah was never unwanted or a failure, she always had worth, and perhaps she learned that if we look for our true worth in other humans or try to earn it with what we can do, that we’ll never truly find it.
She stopped searching for acceptance in Jacob when she realized that she had already found it in the love of her Creator, and for that, she praised the Lord.
Because of this, I want to be like Leah.
Yes, I hope I am loved by those around me, but more so, I hope that even if I’m not, that I’ll have the strength to praise the Lord still.
I hope I always search for my worth in the Lord and place Him above all others.
I hope I learn to be content in whatever circumstance of life I’m in.
That’s truth strength, and I think Leah shows a lot of it just in that one statement: “Now will I praise the Lord.”
Truthfully, are you able to say that, dear reader? I know somedays–and even most days–I’m not, but I want to be able to always, I want to have that mindset.
Now will I praise the Lord.
In whatever season of life we’re in, now we will praise Him.
In whatever situation we’re in, now we will praise Him.
Now we will praise Him.
Life might not always be easy, but God is still good, He is still worthy of our praise.
Leah’s life may have not been the happy one that we hope to live as well, but through her life, we can learn that true happiness isn’t found in people or circumstances, it’s in true contentment in where you are in life. Maybe you aren’t where you want to be right now, but you can still glorify God, and that’s what matters most.
So, let’s be like Leah today, let’s go through the ups and downs in our life, and even when things aren’t great for us, let’s purpose in our hearts to praise God anyway because He’s where our true purpose and worth is found.
I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever.
Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.
One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.
I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works.
And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts: and I will declare thy greatness.
They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness.
The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.
The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.-Psalm 145:1-9