31When GOD realized that Leah was unloved, he opened her womb. But Rachel was barren. 32Leah became pregnant and had a son. She named him Reuben (Look-It's-a-Boy!). "This is a sign," she said, "that GOD has seen my misery; and a sign that now my husband will love me."
33She became pregnant again and had another son. "GOD heard," she said, "that I was unloved and so he gave me this son also." She named this one Simeon (GOD-Heard). 34She became pregnant yet again--another son. She said, "Now maybe my husband will connect with me--I've given him three sons!" That's why she named him Levi (Connect). 35She became pregnant a final time and had a fourth son. She said, "This time I'll praise GOD." So she named him Judah (Praise-GOD). Then she stopped having children.
Genesis 29:31-35 from The Message
As men and women of God, do we sometimes find ourselves in circumstances and situations that we cannot change, no matter how hard we pray, how hard we try, or what we do?
Yes, I thought so. The Bible is the best teacher in more ways than the directly written word. Sometimes the message we need to hear is implied, not implicated. What Leah's life says to us is a message of deliverance that is so powerful we do well to take it apart and chew on it for a moment. Are you ready?
Leah trusted in her ability to have sons to woo her husband.
The older of two daughters, Leah was given in marriage to her cousin, Jacob who'd come from far away. It was the custom of their country for the older daughter to marry before the younger.
The marriage of Jacob and Leah would have been a cause to celebrate had not Leah's father, Laban, promised Jacob that he would give Rachel, the younger sister as Jacob's bride. Rachel had won Jacob's heart at first sight.
When Jacob found out he'd been tricked into marrying the older sister, the tradition or custom of the country was not enough to bring his heart into compliance; he still loved Rachel.
Leah felt her ability to have children was a superb advantage over the childless, barren Rachel. Leah bore her first child, a son. She named him Reuben. His name means, see, a son. Her heart told her this son would solidify her relationship with her husband. She had given him the ultimate compliment to his manhood. She would no longer be looked over for another.
"Look what I've done. I've given him a son. See! Surely he will love me now."
Still the bond between Jacob and Rachel grew stronger. It was a bond that had been there for over 14 years. What was Leah to do but trust in her ability again. She had another son and named him Simeon, which means hearing.
She said of this son, "The Lord, hearing that I am not loved, has given me this child also. Surely he will love me now."
Yet Jacob continued to love Rachel.
And Leah continued to have babies.
She had Levi at this time believing that with this son she and her husband would finally be one.
She had the advantage over Rachel. She'd borne Jacob three sons. Rachel could give Jacob no sons.
The days passed. Jacob's affections remained consistent. His love for Rachel weighed tons in the face of his obliged admiration for Leah.
It seemed Leah and her ability had meant nothing to Jacob. The fact she had his children did not change Jacob or the circumstances. She was still a second rate wife when she should have been the queen of his household.
Was there anything she could do to win his love?
She'd tried everything. She'd been the best lover she could be, the best wife she could be, the best mother she could be.
It amounted to little. It got little more than Jacob's vow to be her husband.
In exasperation and exhaustion of purpose, Leah did what she had to do.
She gave up.
When she gave up on winning Jacob's love, she had a fourth son and named him Judah.
With this son, she said, "Now will I praise the Lord."
Her circumstances hadn't changed, but Leah had learned a valuable truth.
We as Christians find ourselves in stew that even our best effort can't get us out of sometimes. But when we realize our impotence, then is an excellent time to praise the Lord.
We praise God because He's God, and his character consists of love, goodness and mercy. He is not saddled, fettered or hindered by circumstances large or small, good or bad. He is not amenable to ambitions, schedules, whims or pity parties.
He is only responsible for giving us the best according to his design, not our desire.
We have a responsibility to him, too.
It's called giving him praise.