“So Jacob consummated his marriage and lived with Rachel [as his wife], and he loved Rachel more than Leah…”
Now when the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, He made her able to bear children… (Genesis 29:31),
The sons of Leah: Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, then Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun;
GENESIS 35:23 AMP
Many people know the story of Joseph, the son of Jacob despised, rejected, and sold by his brothers yet eventually used by God to save many. All the injustices he endured faded away as he reunited with his brothers and spoke those famous words: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20). Even though he suffered much, Joseph saw the fruits of his labor before he died. He got a glimpse of God’s wisdom in allowing his life to follow the path it did.
But what about Leah? Remember her? You may not think much about her. After all, we don’t know much about her. We know she was Laban’s oldest daughter, yet her younger sister Rachel stole the spotlight. We also know she didn’t fit the mold of beauty in her day, having, as the Bible describes, weak eyes, which means her eyes weren’t bold and shining like her sister Rachel’s. She wasn’t the popular one. She wasn’t the one everyone admired. That was her sister Rachel. Rachel got all the attention. Leah was in the shadows. Even when it came time for marriage, a time when Leah should have had first dibs, she was not only given to a man who didn’t want her, but she was given to him via deception. Her father actually made her pretend to be Rachel, the very one whose shadow she’d been forced behind for years.
I cannot imagine what Leah must have been thinking. I cannot imagine the heartache and trauma and blow to her sense of self-worth it must have been knowing how unloved she was. Knowing her father had deceived Jacob. Knowing not only did Jacob not love her, but knowing he loved her younger sister Rachel instead. I’m sure she knew she was not considered beautiful according to the standards of the day. And then the hurt she must have felt as she watched the life she had probably once dreamed of as a child become a nightmare. Sure, Jacob did what husbands did back then: he used her to bear children. But he never truly loved her. Even after Leah gave him five sons, Jacob still preferred Rachel. Nothing Leah could do could stop Jacob from favoring Rachel and Rachel’s sons. Nothing Leah could do could make Jacob love her. She just wasn’t on Jacob’s radar. She wasn’t on anyone’s radar, really.
But she was on God’s. Yes, Leah was always on God’s radar. And God loved her. God loved Leah even when no one else did. Leah’s life didn’t surprise God either. God knew it from the beginning. He knew what she would look like. He knew how she’d be treated. He knew she would be Jacob’s wife and bear Jacob six sons. And He also knew something that Leah herself probably never knew (or at least the Bible never lets on that she knew): one of her sons (not one of Rachel’s), would be in the lineage of the Savior of the world. Yes! Leah, the one rejected by many in her day, was chosen by God to bear Judah, the son of Jacob listed in the lineage of Jesus.
So here is the point I want to make regarding Leah’s life. While Joseph saw in his lifetime the results of the suffering he endured, Leah did not. Leah lived her entire life unloved and practically unknown by those around her. We never read in in the Bible that she experienced a moment like Joseph–a moment in which she and those around her were able to see God’s purpose for the events of her life. She never had the chance to stand before those who rejected her and declare, “You meant this for evil, but God meant it for good.” Nope. All we read of her death is that she was buried in the same cave as Abraham and Isaac.
But just because Leah never saw God’s purpose on Earth, this does not mean God did not have one. God always has a plan. I repeat: God always has a plan.
Think about Leah’s death for a moment. When Rachel died, she was not buried with the other patriarchs and their wives. Yet when Leah died, she was. It was like God was letting everyone know, “I always knew Leah’s purpose, and I always loved her.” Even though in life Leah was often left out, God made sure that in death she rested with the others whose names would be written in the lineage of Jesus.
Leah may have lived a life on earth unloved and unnoticed, but she was never out of God’s sight. She may have worked hard to earn the love of Jacob on earth, but she always had the love of her Father in heaven.
Now some of you reading this are, like Joseph and Leah, facing many struggles in this life. You have been suffering at the hands of others. You feel unloved, unnoticed, and unappreciated. You may often have extreme difficulty understanding God’s purpose for allowing all the pain in your life. And while some of you will one day be blessed with a Joseph moment before you die–a moment in which you look back over your life and declare, “Now I see what God was doing.” Some of you will not. Some of you may leave this earth never seeing a glimpse of God’s eternal purpose for your pain. For those of you who feel like this is you, let me encourage you in this. God sees you. God knows you. God loves you. And God has a plan. Nothing about you or your life is a mistake. No cry goes unheard and no tear goes unnoticed. You may never see the beautiful tapestry God is weaving with your life on on this side of Heaven, but you can still know that one day you will. God has a plan, and God makes all things beautiful in His time.
Although I wish I could, I cannot sit here today and give you the the perfect answer as to why things are the way they are. I can’t. Because I am not God. But what I can give you is hope and encouragement–hope that one day every tear will be wiped away and encouragement that your efforts are not in vain. So keep pressing on, my friend. Keep moving forward. Keep your faith. Keep your eyes on the prize. Keep trusting in the One who will never let you go. And finally, no matter how bad it gets, remember this: God is God, and you are His child. You are never alone, for God will never (never!) forsake His beloved, and His beloved you are. Yes, His beloved you are.