Today I read the story of Jacob and family again. After tricking his dad into giving him the blessing that rightfully belonged to his older brother, Jacob took off under the pretense of finding a wife among his parents’ relatives.
And find a wife he did. Well, actually four of them. The thing is, he fell in love with the first girl he laid eyes on. Genuinely fell in love, it would appear, because he worked for seven years in the expectation that he’d get to marry her.
But the deceiver was deceived. His beloved’s dad did a switch on the honeymoon, which was apparently also the wedding. Instead of bedding the woman he loved, Jacob awoke the next morning beside her sister.
He was just a little upset. He’d worked for Rachel, loved Rachel, and now he was married to Leah.
I’ve always sided with Jacob in this situation, maybe because I knew he was a “patriarch” and for the longest time I didn’t see them as normal human beings. I mean, God chose them, made them promises, so they were special. I looked at everything they did and wondered, why are some of the things they did wrong for us but right for them? Well, duh. Those things—like Jacob lying to his dad—were just as wrong for them as for us.
At any rate, I grew up having a soft spot in my heart for poor Jacob, saddled to squint-eyed Leah who he’d never wanted to marry. But to my shock and incredulity, God doesn’t seem to be the romantic I am. He saw how Leah was unloved and enabled her to conceive a child:
Now the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, and He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. Leah conceived and bore a son and named him Reuben, for she said, “Because the LORD has seen my affliction; surely now my husband will love me.”
True to my bent, I’ve always felt sorry for Rachel. I mean, she had to stand by while the man who wanted to marry her, married her sister. Then that same sister gave birth to son after son after son after son.
The rivalry, the jealousy is palpable in this story and the machinations of each woman and the lengths they were willing to go to in order to best the other one are twisted. Just when it seems like Leah has come out on top, God enables Rachel to conceive a child and give birth to a son.
How interesting that He seems to come to the rescue of the underdog, the least favored, then the one most in need.
So un-American. We like people who are self-made, who pull themselves up by their bootstraps, who go after all the good things they deserve.
Yes, we also like the Special Olympics and stories of overcomers, but that’s because they are striving and reaching and battling against all odds. We cheer for them. But squint-eyed Leah was just not as attractive as Rachel, and not loved, a third wheel at the party. So why pull for her?
Then, when Leah became supermom, and Rachel was alone and childless, God reached down to her and surprised her with joy.
When there is no reason to lift someone out of their misery, God reaches to take their hand. He is so much more loving than we can ever imagine. So much kinder, more thoughtful and caring, so gracious and giving.
Worthy is our God to receive praise and honor, glory and blessing, now and forevermore.