When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb; but Rachel was barren. So Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben for she said, “The Lord has surely looked on my affliction. Now therefore, my husband will love me.” Then she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the Lord has heard that I am unloved, He has therefore given me this son also.” And she called his name Simeon. She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will become 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, “Now I will praise the Lord.” Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she stopped bearing. (Genesis 29:31-35)
After Leah had a child, she was alright for a while, but old habits were hard to break. Her rest between children was only temporary and she quickly went back to her previous ways. Leah was unloved by her husband Jacob. She kept trying to please him with children, hoping that she would win him over to her. That did not work for her and will not work for you.
Leah Was Used by Her Father
The story of Jacob and Leah is a Bible example of God turning cursing to blessing, first for Leah and finally for Jacob. Their marriage was a trick pulled on Jacob by his boss, Leah’s father, Laban. Jacob agreed to work for Laban for seven years for his other daughter, the beautiful, Rachel. When the marriage day came, the father substituted Leah and Jacob did not know until the next morning. Jacob was reaping what he had sown. He had been swindled out of the bride he wanted in the same manner he had swindled his own father out of his brother’s birthright. Jacob’s life of cheating others continued after the story of the birthright, and now he had to face retribution. Now he was the one being cheated.
More work was involved before Jacob could have Rachel as his wife. But Leah loved Jacob though she knew he preferred her sister. One advantage Leah had, was she could easily bear children and she did. Her sister Rachel was barren.
Leah is typical of so many women who try to win their husband’s affection by having children, hoping to make him feel obligated to love them and stay. Leah tried to win her husband’s love by works and not by faith. She put her trust in her own plotting and scheming and did not put her trust in God. But, God’s grace is still seen in the story. God was gracious to Leah by giving her many baby boys to present as sons to Jacob. After the birth of Judah, Leah began to rest in her bearing of children and in her faith. She had Judah and chose to praise the Lord and quit trying to gain Jacobs love through her works. But soon, for the second time, she went back to trying to win Jacob by having more two children.
And Leah said, "God has endowed me with a good endowment; now my husband will dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons." So, she called his name Zebulun (Genesis 30:20).
God’s Plan, Or Our Plan
A major difference between the life of grace and the life of works is time. If you wait on the Lord, standing on His grace and promises, the answer will come, but usually not as soon as your flesh wants it. Often, while waiting in faith, we become frustrated and switch to trying to get our answers ourselves, by our own strength. We do this, knowing full well God says, “not by might or power but by My Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6).
The works of the flesh seem to offer a quicker solution. After all we know people in high places, capable of helping us. We remember old tricks we have used in the past which brought answers, why not use them again? The problem with our own devices is they do not bring lasting results. The prosperity brought on by our own ideas will run out of our hands. God’s answers may take longer, but they are sure, and the results can be passed on from one generation to another, to our children and children’s children.
The Power of Patience
Why does God’s plans take longer than ours? Time helps develop character. The writer of Hebrews tells us that we have need of patience, so after we have done the will of God we might receive the promise (Hebrews 6:12). We are more interested in the results of our faith than developing character. God wants us to be a better believer by the time the answer comes. God knows, and we should too, that trials and storms will come before the answer arrives. He wants to see how we handle the storms before He will see us over to the other side where our prayers and faith are answered. He wants to know if we will give up when the pressure is great. It is not the storm that makes us strong, but the faith we use in the storm that builds us up.
Leah became the classic example of doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. What she strived for in her own strength she eventually found in her faith. We are not told all the reasons why, but Jacob eventually found a deep love for Leah. And, at his death, Jacob was buried beside Leah, not Rachel. It could be the old adage, when we get the thing we so wanted, it is usually not as good as we imagined.