Maybe This Time
A Reflection on the Heart of Leah, Genesis 29:14-35
Maybe this time he'll notice me.
Maybe this time he’ll enjoy me.
Maybe this time he will laugh at my jokes instead of hers.
Maybe this time he will see the way my hair glimmers in the moonlight.
Maybe this time he will see how tenderly I mother our little boy.
Maybe this time he will see how much I’ve given up for him.
Maybe this time he will notice how savory my beef roast is. I thought the way to a man's heart was through his stomach??
Maybe this time he will love me.
Maybe this time… the heart-cry of every woman, man, girl, and boy who longs to be loved.
It was Leah’s heart-cry. It probably had been her entire life.
What in the world had Leah’s childhood and teen years been like to lead her to this night, when she seemingly willingly entered the marriage tent in secret, in place of her sister? What kind of rejection and hopelessness had she already faced (had she continually faced) that convinced her that trickery was her only chance of getting married or having financial support in her life?
What was her wedding night like? The man she was with thought her to be somebody else. The name on the lips of her lover was not her name. A night that should have been filled with beauty and intimacy was instead filled with heartache and anxiety… “what if he finds out it’s me and not her?”
And then, finally, the sun began to rise, and with it, his disgust. Imagine lying there, perhaps still naked, pretending to sleep. Sensing him roll over next to you. Feeling his hand stroke your long hair. Bracing yourself. And then hearing his gasp of surprise, which quickly turns to anger, disgust, and resentment.
Pulling the sheepskin blanket around her as tightly as she could, Leah must have filled her pillow with tears, silently listening to her husband jump out of the tent and begin yelling at her dad. “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME!?” Oh, how it hurts.
And then the whole week. All week? An entire honeymoon week of this? Of him wishing she was her sister? Of him thinking about next week when it will be her sister with him in the tent? Probably each time they came together in that tent she thought maybe this time…he will love me. He will desire me. He will say I’m beautiful. He will be happy I’m here.
Okay…not this time. Well, maybe next time.
Finally the seven days came to an end, and Jacob got his wish. Oh how that next week must have been filled with agony and jealousy for Leah.
As Leah begins to conceive and have children, we see her reality. She is miserable. Years into marriage, one baby after another, she still is the unloved wife, looking to her husband to fill the huge hole in her heart. And even if he tried, he couldn’t fill that hole. Maybe he did try.
But the hole in Leah’s heart wasn’t a man-sized hole. It wasn’t even a husband-sized hole. It was a God-sized hole. The human heart was designed to crave, need, and depend on the love of God. Our hearts cannot function properly and wholly without the love of God...our
knowledge of His love for us and our resting in His love.
Leah’s hole perhaps was deeper and had more scars than many women, due to what must have been years of rejection and always feeling less than (and likely being told that she was less than, ugly, unwanted, worthless). But no matter the size of the hole in her heart, the love of God could fill it to overflowing if she would just let His love pour in rather than trying so hard to force the love of a man. It’s like those little toddler toy cubes with all the shapes that each fit in their own hole. My children spent cumulative hours trying to jam the wrong pieces into the wrong holes. They would get so frustrated and mad that the triangle wouldn't fit in the rectangle hole. It never worked. It never does for our hearts either.
And after years of failing to win the love of her human husband, on baby #4, we see that Leah has been on a journey of the heart. Oh, she’s not there yet. She hasn’t arrived. She isn’t whole yet. But she’s on a journey for sure. A sacred journey. This time she decides to praise the Lord.
Instead of looking to receive the praise of a man, she decides to give praise to the Lord. And dear friends, even though Leah didn’t know it (at least, we don’t know if she knew), the Lord gave her great, enormous, eternal reward when she turned her heart to him. That baby, baby #4, Judah, would be the one brother of the 12 tribes of Israel whose lineage, about 2,000 years later, would bring us the Lord Jesus Christ.
Leah, the unloved wife, the one who likely had been told she would never be chosen, never be valued, is the one whose line would go all the way to the Savior of the World.
The Lord is good. The Lord sees our pain; He alone can fill our hearts. As Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and He saves those who are crushed in Spirit.” Leah was utterly crushed: on her wedding night; for seven days in the marriage tent; each time a baby was born and her husband’s heart still didn’t turn towards her. She was crushed. But the Lord saw and saved her in a bigger and more world-changing way than she ever could have asked or imagined.
Leah’s life seems to continue to be one of struggle. For a man to have more than one wife was not God’s design for marriage, but it nonetheless became a common ancient practice, as well as the man bearing children through the maidservants. Although becoming commonplace, it still wasn't God’s plan, because, as we can see, it brought tremendous pain to the hearts and relationships of those involved. The women felt used rather than loved. I guess that despite different circumstances, the human heart has never changed, right?
With all the technological and social advancements in the world over the last 4,000 years, since Leah’s story, our need for God has never changed. Our hearts need the love of God. We cannot function wholly without knowing the love of the One who created us.
So my prayer for you today is this: “that you…may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:18-19
His love is wider, longer, higher, deeper than anything in the universe. It is without measure, and it perfectly fills the hole in every human heart. May you know it friend.
Yes. Maybe this time, you will know it.