God sees inside your heart, even during those times when you fear no one notices you at all. When no one else sees, God sees. When no one else cares, God cares.
"When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved …" Genesis 29:31a (NIV)
If you’ve ever felt unnoticed or unnecessary, our biblical sister, Leah, has wonderful news: God looks deep inside our hearts and understands our greatest needs.
When no one else sees, God sees. When no one else cares, God cares.
God noticed that Leah was unloved by those who should have loved her most — her husband, Jacob; her sister, Rachel; her father, Laban. Some of us know the pain of family rejection all too well.
In that ancient time and place, a woman’s ability to produce sons was what gave her value in her household and her community. So, God healed Leah’s sorrow in the kindest possible way: He "enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless" (Genesis 29:31b).
God wasn’t being cruel to Rachel. Her time for childbearing would come. He simply wanted to pour out His favor on unloved Leah first, knowing she would give Him the glory for it.
Leah did just that. She gave birth to a son and named him Reuben — which literally means, "Look, a son!" — because "the Lord has seen my misery" (Genesis 29:32b). Then, like any woman in an unhappy marriage who thinks that if she has a baby, things will get better, Leah said, "Surely my husband will love me now" (Genesis 29:32b).
We hurry to the next verse, hoping to find, "And Jacob turned to Leah and said, ‘Sweetheart! Darling!’"
But that’s not what comes next. In fact, we don’t find any recorded response from Jacob in this passage of Scripture. Not. One. Word.
Across the centuries we can feel Leah’s hopes sinking. The Lord mended her broken heart with another son, and Leah said, "Because the LORD heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too" (Genesis 29:33). Again Leah credits God—not Jacob — for providing this son and names the child Simeon, which means "listening."
God was clearly listening. And Leah was clearly praying. A great example of how to handle disappointment. Rather than whine or fret, pray and wait.
God sees. God hears. And God’s timing is always perfect.
God answered Leah’s prayers with yet a third son, prompting her to make one more plea for her husband’s attention: "Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons" (Genesis 29:34). She named the baby Levi, from the Hebrew word for "cleave." Though Jacob had cleaved to her physically in their marriage, Leah wanted more than that; she wanted his love. And still there was no response from Jacob.
When God blessed her womb yet again, something happened inside Leah’s heart. Three times she’d turned to a weak man for love. The fourth time she turned to a strong God and said, "This time I will praise the LORD" (Genesis 29:35). So wise, this woman.
When Leah named her fourth son Judah, which sounds like the Hebrew word for "praise," we can almost hear her shouting with joy, "I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live" (Psalm 146:2, NIV).
For those of us who keep looking for love and ending up discouraged, Leah shows us the path to contentment:
• Praise God for what you do have, instead of blaming God for what you don’t have.
• Accept the glorious truth that His abundant love for you is enough.
Though we may long for Leah’s story to have a traditional happy ending — a happy marriage to a loving husband — in truth she had a triumphant ending: "For it is clear that our Lord Jesus descended from Judah" (Hebrews 7:14a, NIV). Imagine it! Unloved Leah appears in the lineage of Christ. A woman who was seen by God, heard by God, blessed by God and loved by God.
Lord, I am humbled by Leah’s example. Help me rest in Your loving care instead of demanding love from others. Give me the strength to praise You, even in my darkest hours, so that You may be glorified. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
2 Chronicles 16:9a, "For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." (NIV)
Psalm 16:8, "I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken." (NIV)
Psalm 116:2, "Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live." (NIV)
Celebrate the new year with Liz Curtis Higgs’s joy-filled daily devotional, Rise and Shine.
For more encouragement, see how Liz unwraps the Bible each week on her Bible study blog.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
God sees inside your heart, even during those times when you, like Leah, fear no one notices you at all. She learned how to praise God in the midst of her difficult circumstances. How might the power of praise transform your thinking?