Rachel and Leah. Those names sound familiar right? Those are the two women who were trying desperately to woo Jacob and gain his eyes and/or his heart. Physically, Rachel was the "it" factor. Rachel had "a beautiful figure and a lovely face" (Genesis 29:17) while the only thing mentioned about Leah was "there was no sparkle in her eye"(Genesis 29:17). Before you say or think, "Poor Leah," remember those are physicalities and since beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it is indeed more than meets the eye, let's take a deeper look at the personalities of both of these ladies:
- Rachel had Jacob's heart and felt she was trying to keep it. Leah wanted Jacob's heart and felt any means could get his attention.
- Rachel was barren and could not conceive children (a sign of God's displeasure) while Leah was extremely fertile, as she birthed half of the tribes of Israel (a sign of God's favor).
- Rachel was idolatrous as she clung to her father's idols. She stole them and worshipped them. Leah constantly prayed to God for children (though she and Rachel both had manipulative tactics to gaining Joseph's attention. Rachel felt Jacob would love her more if she bore him sons. Leah just wanted Jacob to love her so she bore him more sons and a daughter - Dinah).
- Rachel envied Leah and was jealous of her, but there is no Biblical account of Leah being jealous.
- Leah mastered contentment while Rachel always complained.
- Leah birthed the tribe of Judah. Jesus descended from Judah.
How are we like both of these ladies in our quest to get what we want in life? We all try to undermine God's hand or we look to someone else to aid us in our journey. Maybe Jacob was just being the man but whatever the reason, God doesn't want us to get our identity in a person, bank accounts, relationships, family, sin, children, physical attributes, careers, idols, etc.
Rachel lost focus along the way, but Leah never took her eyes off of God. Leah was the unloved and unwanted. Jacob overlooked Leah's worth but God did not and despite Jacob's deception over his brother, Esau, (he wrongly inherited Esau's birthright) it was Leah who birthed Judah. And we all know Jesus is a descendant of the tribe of Judah. And in Jesus is where our identities lie.
Are you like Rachel? So caught up in yourself and what you want that you forget to focus on God? Are you waiting for a Jacob to realize your worth? Desiring desperately to cling onto an idol that you neglect the one who created you - God? Or are you like Leah, so lost in God that you pray and cry out to Him in the midst of mayhem?
As I read each chapter, I envisioned each scripture mentally and I realized that the people in the Bible are not characters or movie stars - they are human beings, real people with real issues like us. The Bible is relevant. Those same people had identity crises just like you and I.
In the past, I sought human validation, but over the course of a year, God stripped me of those Rachel desires and began renewing in me a heart like Leah's - one that is soley focused on Him. As I read Rachel and Leah's story, I was immediate taken back to an incident in a grocery store as a child. This lady looked at me and said, "You are so pretty with your knock knees. You're a different kind of beautiful." I remember looking at her in amazement because rarely was I called "beautiful" as a child. I am sure Leah didn't get called beautiful as much, either.
Initially, I thought the Bible was telling us Leah was an "eye sore" but if you research you will see that was not the case. Leah had weak eyes and that was the only trait the Bible mentioned about her. I have weak eyes, too. My vision is horrible; it's tipping the negative scales as we speak. But what I will say about my weak eyes, is the fact that my sight is failing,and it causes me to use other body parts more. I listen more, my heart is kinder, my words softer, my touch gentler, etc. I may not catch a wordly man's attention because I dress modestly. I don't curse or yell. I try to be meek and mild in most verbal interactions though I can fail miserably at times. I rarely wear make-up or dress like I stepped out of a fashion magazine. I used to be that woman but finding Christ changed the Jezebel spirit in me to a spirit like Leah's.
One day I would like to be like the wife in Proverbs 31 and in my eyes, Leah was like that woman despite her shortcomings. Having a weakness is a sign of humanity because we all know God's strength is made perfect in our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9). Weaknesses also cause us to rely on God. Leah needed God to love her since her husband did not. Leah's identity was in God, not her circumstances. Leah did not worry about how she felt. She never allowed her emotions to be a distraction. Leah prayed and despite being unloved by Jacob, God still loved her. Ironically, Leah's eyes were weak but she never lost sight of God. Leah's worth was in God. God defined Leah.
Like Leah's life, my life has been a series of slammed doors as I tried to find my identity. I, too, wished men would acknowledge me. I tried to make many "Jacob's" love and notice me. But we have to see if people do not view us as God views us, then they will never see us. You can't tap into the spiritual if you can't lose site of the physical. There is more to every person than their outer layer. And no matter how many distractions or idols you put before God, they all will fail you because you can't put a human or object in a God-sized void. Your identity and worth is in Christ. It is not in a night club, sex, the heart or arms of a Jacob or Jezebel (read men or women), gossip, friend, celebrities, hairstyles, clothes (or the lack thereof), shoes, music, career, children, etc. The true definition of self lies deep in the bosom of Jesus Christ. We are there. And that is where we find wholeness - at his feet. So sit there and rest because God says you are worth it. You are fearfully and wondrously made (Psalm 139:14) in Him. A woman's worth is not found between her thighs or in her clothing size. It is best measured by the size of her heart and the size of her love and admiration for God.
If you struggle with worth, God has a message for you, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29). Allow God to define who you are. He created you, so he knows you best.