— Victim by Default —
Leah was betrayed by her father who devised a scheme to marry her off to a man named Jacob, who was passionately in love with her younger sister. It does sound like the plot for a soap opera, but you can read all about it in the first book of the Bible, Genesis Chapter twenty-nine. True stories are almost always the most intriguing.
Imagine Leah’s predicament and let it sink in for a moment.
She was raised in the shadow of her younger sister, Rachel, who was ‘beautiful of form and face’, while Leah had some sort of weakness in her eyes that made her unattractive. Her father, Laban, probably believed it was unlikely she would be sought out for marriage when he tricked Jacob on his wedding night (in their culture the bride would have worn layers of linens and cloaks and veils).
When confronted by Jacob the following day, Laban used the excuse that the older sister is to be married first. The anger and resentment Jacob must have harbored because of the treachery of his father-in-law was surely not lost on Leah. Nor the fact she was cast off in a most cruel way by her own father.
What must have hurt most, was the knowledge that her husband was in love with Rachel, a constant grief that cut to the core of her being. She was second best – at best – in her own marriage.
— Strategy —
Leah became obsessed with winning the love of her husband. When their first son was born, she said, “…surely now my husband will love me.” But nothing changed. Time passed and she presented Jacob with a second son, still no change.
When their third son was born, she said, “Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” But the birth of the third son still wasn’t enough, Jacob did not become attached to her.
Leah’s determination to win the affection of her husband resonates with me. There have been times in my life that I employed a mantra, “If I love him enough, sacrifice enough for him and do everything in my power to please him, he will love me.”
Not so much a conscious declaration as a deep-seated conviction that grew into an obsession. And imperceptibly, God slipped into second position in my life.
For a time.
— Idolatry —
“Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey, either of sin, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?” Romans 6:16-19 (ESV)
Tim Keller, pastor and Christian author, has said that any time we put family or sex or anything else in our lives in the place of God, we will be decimated – in the end we will have absolutely nothing.
It can be a career or an addiction to drugs or gambling or looking good to your online community or keeping some part of your life secret. Anything that becomes an obsession – and crowds God out of first place. The scary thing is, we may not recognize (or be willing to admit to ourselves) what’s happening.
In my case it was a relationship – and then another.
Did God love me through it all? Yes.
Can we make another person love us? No.
Does our fulfillment come through human love? No.
When Leah gave birth to a fourth son, she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” And she named her son Judah, which means praise.
A burden was lifted off Leah. She no longer focused on trying to alter a situation she was powerless to change.
When something in our lives becomes an obsession, it comes between us and God. It blocks our vision and we only have eyes for the object of our desire. We believe we must have It. And whatever IT is, has become an idol.
During the periods in my life when I became obsessed with trying to fix a relationship – I literally sacrificed everything I had to give – to no avail. The object of my husbands’ affection still captivated him. Whether it was other women, narcissism, pornography or an addiction to alcohol, I was unable to successfully compete.
The more desperate I became, the more unbearable the situation would become. Until my vision cleared, and I asked God to forgive me for betraying Him.
— Leah Finds Love —
Eventually, Leah surrendered her problem to God by changing her focus. When she accepted that she could not change her husband, and turned her affection toward God, and praised the Lord for her newborn, she was liberated. No longer captive to her obsession, no longer a slave to idolatry.
God blessed Leah’s faithfulness, her choice to take the path of righteousness, in ways she could not have imagined. Through her son, Judah, the King would come, the Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord. What great honor God bestowed upon her.
She took the deepest passions and desires of her heart and put them on the Lord. Laban and Jacob, those men, had been stealing her life for years – but the moment she turned to the Lord, she took her life back.
When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, He loved her – He is the true bridegroom. He is the ONLY ONE who will not let you down… – Tim Keller
Is there something that has captured the deepest adoration of your heart and has come between you and God?
He already knows about it, it’s okay to go to Him with it, He’s waiting with open arms.
By His grace we are embraced,