Today is Valentine's Day. It is a day that represents love. The day when flower shops and candy companies rejoice! I am thankful that the Lord has blessed me with a loving husband. However, as I was contemplating this day, I am very aware that there are a lot of lonely isolated people in our world. Some have been through divorce, some have never been married or found the "right one" and others have lost their loved one to death. In many cases for these folks, Valentine's Day can be a painful reminder of what they are not, that is loved. As I was meditating on this reality, I was drawn to Genesis 29:16-30. This is the story of Jacob and his marriage to the two sisters, Leah and Rachel. If you remember the story, Leah was the older of the two sisters and was described as having "weak"eyes. On the other hand, her younger sister Rachel was "lovely in form and beautiful."(Genesis 29:17) Jacob was "head over heals" in love with Rachel, so much so that he was willing to work seven years for Laban, their father, to marry her. However, after seven years of service, Laban did the old "switch and bait" tactic and gave Jacob, Leah instead. Laban justified his move by telling Jacob that it was not customary to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. Laban then made an offer that Jacob could not refuse, he could marry Rachel for another seven years of work. Jacob did not hesitate to accept and we are told that, "Jacob lay with Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah." (Genesis 29:30) Imagine how Leah must have felt to be "second best?" I have always been touched by this story because I know how Leah felt as maybe some of you have had similar experiences of feeling not good enough. The wonderful truth I discovered in this story is how greatly God loves those society brands as "unlovable." In fact, Leah has the last laugh because from her womb were born the sons who would greatly impact the coming of the Messiah. Her son, Levi, represented the Aaronic line of priests. Moreover, her son, Judah, represented the lineage through which Jesus Christ would be born. Upon further reflection, I realized Leah had a lot in common with our Savior. She was "despised and rejected" by Jacob which is how Isaiah 53:3 describes the way the Lord was treated by others. Jesus was also a "man of sorrows and familiar with suffering." (Isaiah 53:3b) How familiar was Leah with the suffering and sorrow of being reminded on a daily basis that she was not wanted? Furthermore, Isaiah describes Jesus' physical appearance as not anything special, "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in appearance that we should desire Him." (Isaiah 53:2) Unfortunately, Leah would not live to see Messiah come and realize her significant role in the lineage of Jesus. But while Jacob was fixated on outer beauty, our Lord is focused on the inner beauty. God does not operate according to the standards of the world. The beautiful and rich don't always get the prize at the end of the day. God works in and through the unexpected. Remember the Jews were looking for a kingly Messiah to free them from the Romans but Jesus was born in a stable and was a carpenter from Nazareth. Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the start of the Lenten season which will culminate in the celebration of Easter. Do you want to know what the best love story of all time is? You won't find it in a box of candy or bouquet of flowers but on a hill at Calvary. The shape of love is not a heart but a cross. So for all you "Leahs" out there, remember in God's eyes, you are worth the greatest love that heaven could offer, the gift of His Son. "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) And this my friends is real love.
In His Love,