Monday, August 27, 2018

Praising God in Disappointment

 When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. “– Genesis 29:31

When you read the story of Rachel and Leah, you really feel like Leah got a bad deal.  How horrible was her father, Laban, that he tricked Jacob into marrying her instead of her younger sister that he loved.  It’s hard to imagine how she must have felt, knowing that she was being given to a man that did not love her.

Seven years Jacob had worked for Rachel.  Seven long years.  But his love for her was so strong that verse 20 of this chapter says that “they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.” Rachel loved Jacob as well, and Leah knew it.

But the custom of the day was that the older sister must marry first.  Aren’t traditions just the worst thing? They are rules made up by people in a different age and time, that are handed down without any thought to how crazy they are.  So he tricked Jacob into marrying Leah.  It was only the next morning (the morning after the honey moon) that Jacob opened his eyes and saw it was Leah.  Only God knows what he must have said to Leah in his great surprise. 

Angry at the way Laban his father-in-law had tricked him, Laban agreed to give him Rachel also if he would work another 7 years for her.  So immediately Rachel became his wife also, the wife he loved and cherished.  And Leah would have fallen into the background – except for one thing.  Leah could have children and God had closed Rachel’s womb.

The story of how she named her children from Jacob tells it all. 

The first was Reuben, “because the Lord has seen my misery.  Surely my husband will love me now.”  Lots of women fall into this trap even in this age.  Feeling they’re losing the love of a husband they have a child, only to find out that a child doesn’t bring them together.  How sad that even a small baby would not bring her love, but she still craved the love of Jacob.

The second was also a son, Simeon, “because the Lord hear that I am not loved, and he gave me this one too.”  Still unloved, still craving love in her life from someone who could not give it, she had another son.  But even two young boys were not enough to fill the void in her heart.

The third child was named Levi, and she said “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.”  Stop a second and think about the situation going on in the background here.  Jacob is still living with Rachel, loving Rachel, but making love to Leah and having children by her.  While in today’s world having two wives is nothing less than adultery, at this time the laws had not been given.  Yet the heartbreak Leah had to feel each night Jacob returned to Rachel is very real.  He was the one she could not have because he simply did not love her.

The fourth and last child was named Judah.  Yes, Judah as in the tribe of Judah that God would later send His Son Jesus to be born from.  When Leah had Judah, she did something she’d never done before.  Instead of looking at what she wanted, she looked up in praise to God.  She named him Judah, and said “This time I will praise the Lord.” 

Four children later, Leah realized something.  Somewhere between the birth of Levi and Judah, she realized that the love she could not have from Jacob was harming her.  She found the love of God in the gifts He had given her.  It wasn’t just the children, but the ability to have those children when Rachel could not.  She had a purpose, one that was blueprinted into even the birth of Christ being in her lineage. 

Friends, we’re all Leah at one time or another.  We want the love of someone who is unable to love us back in the way God wants us to be loved.  Think not for a second that God was not in control of this situation.  While He gives us free will, and that led Laban to be the cause of this horrible blow to Leah’s life, He could have changed Jacob’s heart.  He changed the hearts of many in the Bible.  But as he spoke to Paul, “my grace is sufficient”, He also gives us grace and mercy.  Grace is strength, favor, blessings to heal the wounds.  In that grace, He gifted Leah with four sons. 

The number four in the Bible indicates completeness.  In having Judah, Leah finally found a way to feel complete.  She came to peace with herself and with God.

Sometimes the love we crave, the one we want, or the things we think will make us happy are not given to us for very good reasons.  It hurts! It crushes our hearts and breaks our spirit.  And when that happens, we need to be as Leah, and look to God in praise.  That’s right – PRAISE.  He sees the future as history, and His will for us is always good.  Trusting God that He is in control of all things, and He is, is powerful medication for those wounds.  He does not forsake us when our prayers are answered with “No.”.  Instead, He sooths the broken heart.  Psalms 147:3 says “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”.  Pray out your pain to Him when you’re disappointed.  He is ready and willing to bind your wounds.