We women do all sorts of things in order to fill our bottomless hunger to be loved. A woman will stay in an unhealthy relationship hoping that someday…the man she is with will come to love her. A girl will choose a career path, thinking that someday, her mother or father will be proud enough of her to love her. A woman will tolerate years of abuse in hope that things will someday change and she will be loved. A woman will put her body on display with her clothing, in the hope that by noticing her body, perhaps someone will come to love her heart. A woman will marry and divorce, and marry and divorce, in an endless search to find someone who will truly love her. A mother can even have controlling demands of her grown children, in fear of loosing their love. There is an endless list of things a woman will do for the mere hope of being loved.
When I think of an unloved woman in Scripture, my heart goes immediately to Leah. She was a homely woman, coerced into marrying Jacob by her father. Repeatedly, Scripture points out that Jacob loved Rachel and hated Leah. Leah yearned for Jacob to love her. Each time she had a baby, she hoped the baby would give her favor and love from her husband.
Genesis 29:31-35 “When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, ‘Because the Lord has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me.’ She conceived again and bore a son, and said, ‘Because the Lord has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also.’ And she called his name Simeon. Again she conceived and bore a son, and said, ‘Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.’ Therefore his name was called Levi. And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, ‘This time I will praise the Lord.’ Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she ceased bearing.”
We are never told in Scripture that Jacob ever loved Leah. In fact, in Genesis 30:14-19 we see Leah’s struggle for affection continue. I am sad for Leah, yet as Scripture unfolds, I see a deeper love story in Leah’s life. God created Leah to look the way she did. God loved her the way He made her. God noticed her, and in her pain of being unloved, God blessed her. It was through Judah, her fourth son, that King David was born, and eventually the eternal King, Christ. Leah was a very loved woman.
Did Leah ever know how much God loved her? There are glimpses through her children’s names that she might have understood that God loved and cared for her. However the question I wonder is if Leah ever found her satisfaction in God, or if she forever longed for the love of her husband. It is one thing for a person to know they are loved with an everlasting love, but that knowledge is powerless. It is only when a woman casts out the idols of her life and rests in God’s completely filling love before can she be completely satisfied and find perfect joy in God. “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” Psalm 16:11.
Looking past Leah, another woman pops up in Scripture. Ruth forsook her idols and found her satisfaction to be only in God. Ruth followed God without an expectation of blessing.
Ruth 1:15-17 And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”
In leaving Moab and following Naomi and the God of Israel, Ruth not only forsook her gods, but also her family, marriage, and the hope of having children. She completely threw herself, wildly, and unassuming into her faith in God. We continue to see Ruth’s dedication to God through her love and care of Naomi her mother-in-law. And then, Ruth choose to follow God’s command in seeking a kinsman redeemer through her husband’s family’s in Boaz. When Boaz realized that Ruth was sacrificing the possibility of a long marriage for an old man like himself, he was deeply touched and told Ruth, “May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich” Ruth 3:10. Obed, the son of Ruth and Boaz was the grandfather of King David, and in time, Christ, as we know was born from the lineage of David.
Both women, Leah and Ruth were created, chosen, loved, and blessed by God. Ruth followed God, fully aware that the consequences of her choice to follow God could mean a loss of earthly love and earthly relationships. Yet, Ruth was content in God and obeying His commands. Ruth had found that God was more than enough to satisfy. She did not require a husband, a family, children to complete her happiness. God was enough for her.
Like Ruth, Leah was obedient to God. Leah also honored her father and husband. Leah saw God’s hand at work in her life by providing her with children. So, Leah acknowledged that God loved her. But Leah was continually unsatisfied. For Leah, God was not enough. Leah longed to be loved by her husband. I admit it would be a very difficult scenario for any woman. So I do not judge Leah for the struggles of her heart. But I can’t help to wonder how different dear Leah’s life story would have been IF she had pursued her joy in God instead of earthly, faulty, human relationships.
“You open Your hand And satisfy the desire of every living thing” Psalm 145:16.