The following Her Voice story comes from Leah Gillam:
The biblical character who most exemplifies trust to me is my old testament namesake, Leah. In the wake of my husband’s betrayal, I spent some time camped out on Genesis 29 and 30, with newly married Jacob and his pair of wives: Leah and her younger sister, Rachel* The Bible is silent on how much choice or direct involvement Leah had in deceiving Jacob on their wedding night, but Gen. 29:25 tells us she spent her first day as a married woman listening to her new husband scream at her father in dismay over this union. Jacob had been promised Rachel and it was Rachel he would have. While a part of me had hope that things would somehow work out in our girl’s favor, even with time, Jacob never does grow to love Leah.
Through no fault of her own, Leah finds herself unloved and overlooked by her husband, who only has feelings for another woman-her own sister(!) Interestingly, God does not step in and fix this problem by causing Jacob to love Leah. He gives her sons instead. What a miserable situation for them both. Each sister has what the other wants: Rachel enjoys a loving husband but has no children, while Leah becomes pregnant easily even though Jacob remains emotionally unavailable.
Now, here’s where Leah messes up. She puts all her hope into her children, which essentially become idols in her life, as reflected in the names she bestowed on them: Reuben (meaning see, a son) Simeon (to be heard) and Levi (joined in harmony). THEN!!!! Something happens between verse 34 and 35. There is a shift and she no longer defines her worth by her marriage to Jacob. Leah gets pregnant with baby #4 and gives him a completely different kind of name. She calls her fourth son Judah, saying this time I will praise the Lord.
Jacob ends up having 12 sons, who become the founders of the 12 tribes of Israel. Throughout the Bible, Hebrews would trace their ancestry back to one of these 12 tribes, as this was an important source of identity, culture, and history. Guess which tribe Jesus is descended from? (Hint: the Lion of Judah) He did not come from Jacob’s oldest son (Reuben) or the favorite son (Benjamen). Jesus’ earthly lineage stemmed from the tribe of Judah. Leah and her decision to praise the Lord.
God used this story to gently convict me to stop putting all my hope in my husband’s love for me and start trusting Him instead; He can do bigger and better things than I could ever imagine.
*Technically there were 4 women in this relationship, as each sister’s maidservant was also married to Jacob, but for simplicity’s sake, I’m just focusing on these two. PS.. this family puts the FUN in dysfunctional!
Photos courtesy: EquippingGodlyWomen.com