Yesterday I got a new audiobook by Walter Wangerin called, "The Book Of God" which is a novelization of the Bible. So far, it is both beautiful and terribly sad. Even though I know the stories already, I couldn't believe the way Sarah and Abraham treated Hagar. My heart went out to Ishmael as he and his poor mother were sent away from the only home, family and safety they knew. Then came the story of Rebekah , which was a sweet breath of fresh air before the disorienting heartbreak that was the tale of Jacob, Rachel and Leah.
Jacob was just like I remember him; brilliant, headstrong and about three steps ahead of everyone else. After having tricked his brother out of his inheritance twice, and lying to his father, Jacob left home, running for his life to his mother's home country. When he arrived, he fell in love with Rachel on first sight. But you remember the story; the trickster got tricked! Rachel's dad gave Jacob the older sister Leah instead of Rachel. Nobody wanted Leah, but there she was. Before you know it, Jacob found himself hitched to two sisters who spent the next ten years hating each other and using themselves and their servants to have a baby-off with Jacob in the middle of the whole thing!
What really got me in all of this mess was Leah. Poor Leah. She didn't ask for this life. She didn't mean to be always in the way. She was constantly rejected; not pretty enough, not fun enough, not Rachel enough. As I listened to Leah's story unfold, my heart broke with hers. No one loved her, no one saw her, no one wanted her. Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever felt like Leah? Have you ever felt unseen, unnoticed and unwanted? I had to think that at least part of my sadness over Leah's story was the mirror it forced me to look into, and how lonely it feels to be Leah. Probably everyone feels that way sometimes.
When Leah got pregnant, (something Rachel couldn't do) she named her first son, "See, a son!" just hoping that Jacob would finally love her, or at least look her way. It didn't work. She did so much talking about how unwanted she was that when she had another baby, she figured even God had heard her miseries and so she named this one, "He heard." When she had yet another son she thought, "Okay, surely this time my husband will be attached to me because I've given him three boys!" so she named him, "Attached." but, no dice. She still wasn’t Rachel enough for Jacob. Finally she got pregnant again and I guess Leah just decided that even if her husband never loved her, at least God did. God heard her, He saw how unloved and unwanted she was and maybe for the first time, that was enough for Leah. This fourth baby she named, “Praise God.”
Listening to this story unfold, I was so sad for Leah until I remembered something. I remembered that Leah’s not sad anymore. In fact, Leah hasn’t been sad in over 4,000 years! Not only that, that fourth baby of hers, the one she named, “Praise God” became the great, great, great, great... (skip a few) great, great grandfather of our Lord Jesus, the Son of God, the Prince of Peace! The whole history of the world changed by the descendant of Leah! The rescue of the human race came through Leah’s family! The girl no one wanted turned out to be the very girl God Almighty wanted. The person no one saw wound up being a princess in the Kingdom of God and a name no one will ever forget forever and ever. So, for all of us who have ever felt unnoticed, unwanted, unimportant or unloved, remember Leah. Remember that God sees you and He loves you and that’s no small thing. Remember that your story isn’t over yet and you never know what God is up to. Hey may be getting ready to blow your mind in a few thousand years.