This is Your NOW!
“Now Laban had two daughters. The older daughter was named Leah, and the younger one was Rachel. 17 There was no sparkle in Leah’s eyes,[a] but Rachel had a beautiful figure and a lovely face. Since Jacob was in love with Rachel, he told her father, “I’ll work for you for seven years if you’ll give me Rachel, your younger daughter, as my wife.” Genesis 29:16-18 (NLT)
Leah, the oldest of Laban’s daughters lived a difficult life; she lived in the shadow of her younger sister, who scripture denotes as more beautiful and more desirable. She endured the disappointment of her father who thought his daughter’s only hope was marriage. Rachel was the object of Jacob’s affection; he desired her and loved her despite his marriage to Leah. Irrespective of your beauty, your intelligence, your popularity; know that God has chosen you and His hand is upon you. Psalm 34:18- The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
God was working out a plan through Leah, unbeknownst to her. She was focused on her lack rather than her possessions. Like Leah, we often focus all our efforts on acquiring the dream home, husband, marriage; we essentially engage in a losing battle as God works out His purposes. This was the case with Leah; because she wasn’t receiving the love from her husband, she lived her life in unhappiness. She was busy chasing Jacob’s love and lost sight of her own blessing. Likewise, we are often busy chasing the love of Jacob and not appreciating how blessed we are.
As scripture narrates, the Lord sees that Leah is not loved and opens her womb. Three times, Leah conceived and each time, she attributed the birth of her son to the lack of affection from her husband. Each time, she – not God, was the subject of the blessing. (Gen 29:32-34) Leah dwelled in self-pity. When you embrace self-pity, you fail to recognize the good things God is doing in and around you. Leah placed her confidence in her ability to bear sons for Jacob; she was sure that by giving birth, she would win his affection. Much like us; we place our confidence in a job, a marriage or a future event, assuring ourselves that when it happens, perhaps things will be better. Like Leah, what happens when your sureties fail you?
Sometimes in life, you feel like you are doing everything right, but it seems like God does not notice or the people close to you do not notice. While she was not her husband’s beloved, she had a possession, a gift, an ability her sister Rachel did not; Leah could bring forth children. Her desperation blinded her such that she could not take joy in what she had. She lived in a place of disappointment over a space of having three children. Child after child she remained in that place of discontent. She could not fully enjoy the gifts God had given her because the gifts for her were a means to the gift she really wanted, Jacob’s love.
We also have many blessings, but we have no joy or contentment in our hearts. Perhaps you live in misery because you thought by now, you’d have what you desperately desire. Your pursuit of the love of Jacob is keeping you from seeing that you are blessed! Stop chasing the love of Jacob; rather recount the numerous blessings God has given you. The shift in perspective moves you from a place of disappointment into a place of contentment.
Finally, in Genesis 29:35, Leah brings forth yet again, but names this child Judah; “for she said, ‘Now I will praise the LORD!’ And then she stopped having children.” Something happened to Leah between Levi and Judah. There was a change in attitude, heart, and perspective. The focus this time was on God, not on herself. If you make life all about yourself, you will not know true joy or true happiness. You will always find something wrong with you or something wrong with your life. Leah did not have all she desired, i.e. Jacob’s love, but she chose to praise God now! Decide that throughout your unmet expectations you will praise God now! God is worthy to be praised, despite our unfulfilled desires and regardless of our disappointments.
Don’t postpone your praise. Don’t peg your now to a future date, for that future event may not happen as you expected. Praise now, not after the dream wedding, or the graduation; not after the job promotion or the house, but NOW! Now means as long as it is today, I will praise the Lord. As long as I have breath.
God has not designed us to be fulfilled by things and by other people. Real fulfillment can be found in God and God alone. So instead of looking sideways or horizontally for validation and for approval and for value, let’s look to God. He sees all your faults and loves you unconditionally.
Leah had a focus shift; we all need a focus shift. A focus shift from self-pity to gladness and joy; from ingratitude to gratitude, from self-centeredness to God-centeredness. Leah’s shift, however, was short-lived. The Bible says after the birth of Judah, Leah stopped bearing children. In that momentary break where it seems opportunities and blessings have stopped, it is easy to panic. Don’t create a mess out of a brief delay; remain resolute. You started January with such a passion for God, but as the year has progressed, that fire has dwindled. Let nothing affect your praise; don’t regress.
Stop holding your praise hostage. There are some seasons when you have to fight to keep your eyes on God. The Bible speaks about the many tribulations that we will go through, but it also reminds us that God overcame and we can also. End the year on a thankful note and begin the new one with a thankful heart. A grateful heart is liberating, a grateful heart brings healing!
Give thanks in all circumstances.