Scripture Focus: Genesis 29.31-32
31 When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. 32 Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”
From John: This is our last of Dena’s series on weary women of the Bible and we thank her so much for sharing her work with our readers and for sharing her experience with our student writers this summer. Dena has more books in the works and we encourage you to check out her social media pages and websites. You’ll also be hearing again from Dena here at some point in the future and we greatly look forward to it! Thank you, Dena!
Reflection: We Measure Up—Because of the Cross
By Dena Dyer
The drama in some of the Old Testament stories—such as Leah and Rachel’s rivalry over Jacob—reminds me of a modern reality show. Can you imagine sisters-by-blood being married to the same man? I’m sure Rachel felt terribly betrayed by Laban’s deception on what was supposed to be her wedding night. After a seven-year betrothal, she was deceived just as Jacob was.
The jealousy between the sisters became even more intense in the latter portion of chapter 29 and into chapter 30 of Genesis, when Leah began bearing children and gave Jacob four sons (Rueben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah). Sadly, after delivering each of the first three boys, Leah voiced her desperate hope that Jacob would simply love her.
Any of us who have been rejected by someone of the opposite sex can empathize with Leah. But however broken-hearted Leah was, God remembered her: ‘… the Lord saw that Leah was unloved…” (Genesis 29.31) and gave her four sons.
Did you know it wasn’t just Leah who battled comparison and envy? Even though Rachel stole Jacob’s heart from day one, she was extremely jealous of Leah’s ability to bear children, even demanding Jacob “give me children or I die.”
Here’s the irony: Leah often compared herself to Rachel and felt that she came up short, because Jacob loved her sister more. But Rachel compared herself to Leah and felt that she was on the losing end of the equation, because Leah was fertile.
The story of Rachel and Leah convicts me. Too often, I’m not content with the gifts God has given me. I feel envious of an acquaintance’s good financial fortune or get jealous of a friend’s achievement. Maybe you struggle in this way, as well.
The enemy of our souls knows that he can use insecurities and doubts about our worth to tempt us to jealousy, envy—even self-hatred. He plants menacing thoughts in our heads: I’ll never measure up. I’m worthless. God can’t love me. God can’t use me.
But we measure up because of Jesus’ death and resurrection. We’re worthy because of His righteousness. God loves us and He proved it once and for all on the cross. When we succumb to Satan’s schemes, we lose sight of who He has created us to be, and what He has specifically called us to do.
I believe jealousy and envy are the result of not knowing our true worth in Christ. When we remember all that He has given and planned for us, we can rest secure and cheer others on. We don’t have to feel less-than because of their success.
I pray that the story of Leah and Rachel leads you and me to confess our sins of jealousy and envy and turn our attention back to God. After all, when we live in communion with Him, He makes our lives everything He created them to be—in His perfect timing.
About Dena: Dena Dyer is an author of eleven books, including Wounded Women of the Bible: Finding Hope When Life Hurts with Tina Samples. She’s also a speaker, worship leader, Anglophile, and movie lover who lives with her husband, youngest son, and rescue pup near Fort Worth, Texas. In her day job, she serves as Executive Assistant to Jamie Aten, founder of Wheaton’s Humanitarian Disaster Institute. Find out more about Dena’s books and resources at her website or follow her on Instagram or Facebook.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; let those who love your salvation say forever, “Great is the Lord!” — Psalm 70.4a
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.
2 Samuel 24 (Listen – 4:48)
Galatians 4 (Listen – 4:13)
Read more about Greed and Envy
It is in Christ that we will find the compassion to overcome our cynicism and the generosity of spirit to overcome our jealousy and greed.
Read more about Resisting Culture’s Mold
Leah and Rachel are set against one another by their culture and family environment. They allow this cultural pressure to press them into a combative mold.