Have you ever heard At Seventeen by Janis Ian?
“I learned the truth at seventeen.
That love was meant for beauty queens.”
I resonated with that song as the 16, 17, 18 year old girl who had never been on a date. Just these string-you-along non-relationships that were more confusing than romantic. These seem like minor problems when I think of the real romantic tragedies of the world. As scripture puts it :
Under three things the earth trembles;
under four it cannot bear up:
…an unloved woman when she gets a husband…
Like Leah. She was unlovely and unlovable. She had “weak eyes” (Gen 29:17) and her father tricked her husband into marrying her. And now we cringe. What kind of father would do that? Just marry off his daughter to some guy who couldn’t care less about her. Maybe, a good one. Maybe he cared that she was provided for by a man appearantly destined for success. Maybe a terrible one. Maybe he just wanted her off his hands. Yet, what we’re left with is a lonely woman desparately grasping at the straws of love. How many of us have been there? Thinking “if I can only do this perfect, now they will notice me!”
Leah bore 6 sons and one daughter (quite a feat for an unloved woman) to a man who hated her. She even “hired” him for number 5 (Issachar). For 5 out of the 6 boys we see the same pattern to her thinking. God is so good! He has given me a son so my husband will love me! (In different forms of expresion of course.) And then there’s Judah. He is named simply “this time I will praise the Lord”. We cheer for her here! Where it lands at the end of Chapter 29 it seems like the perfect ending to her story of struggle. She finally gets it. God isn’t giving her sons so her husband will love her. He is giving her so many little blessings so she will see that HE loves her! Dispite the hatered she endures from the world God still sees her for the beautiful creation she is. The purpose He has for her to bare His glory before the world.
Sadly, her story doesn’t end there. She appears to jump right back into the struggle for her husbands affection against her sister. Even counting the sons born to her servant in her roster against the beautiful one (Rachel). She is not really mentioned again. I like to think that she forgives her sister before she dies in childbirth. That she goes on to live a contented life in the shadow of Gods mercy as the neglected wife of Israel. That she learns to cherish God as more than enough for her need for love.
Lets not forget the lesson we can learn from Leah. All of life is not perfect. Sometimes we end up married to the perfect person with the perfect children and things still don’t go the way we always dreamed they would. But may our response always be as Leahs’ was in the midst of her trials. “This time I will praise the Lord!”