“I should not have married you!” is one agonizing accusation from a spouse anywhere in the time line of a married life. Some even would go further and say, “I should have married that person!” Such words make marriages a hell. “This should have never happened in my life”- is yet another repeated quote in our conversations. What can one do in unloved or adverse situations in life?
Jacob had to marry Leah, the “not so” beautiful girl whom he did not love. Poor Leah had to lead a life unloved by her husband. Proverbs 30:23 says that the earth cannot bear up a woman who is unloved by her husband. The marriage of Jacob and Leah grew worse because Jacob also married Rachel, the beautiful girl, his original lover who was also Leah’s sister. Because of his mad love for Rachael he gave fourteen years of hard labour for his father-in-law. In such a situation, how did Leah survive her marriage with Jacob? Did the increasing number of babies born out of their unloved relationship ever help Leah to win the love of her husband? Every time she named a baby, she had something to say to the world about her attitude.
Leah had a turning point in her life only at the birth of Judah, her fourth son. It was then she stopped being negative in life and started to talk positive words. The naming of the first three children carried meanings wanting her husband to love her and get attached to her (Genesis 29:32-34). But she named the fourth son saying, “This time I’ll praise the Lord” (Genesis 29:35). Praising the Lord while she was still not successful in earning her husband’s love was that positive turning point. We need to have a comparison of Rachael at this point who was very desperate to have a child, since she did not have one for her yet. A very negative statement arises from her conversation to Jacob, “Give me children or I’ll die!” (Genesis 30:1). We also see Rachael following the prevalent culture of the time, giving her own maid to Jacob to somehow get a child. When her maid gave birth to a son, Rachael said, “I have had a great struggle with my sister and have won!” (Genesis 30:8). Now turn to Leah! She would not give up either! She too followed the same cultural practice by giving her maid to beget children through Jacob. While naming the new arrival she bubbled with joy, “How happy I am. The women will call me happy!” (Genesis 30:13). While it was a “struggle” for Rachael to get a child, for Leah it was a happy event. Speaking positive words have power. The Bible says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:21) SPEAKING POSITIVE WORDS BY TRUSTING AND PRAISING THE LORD HELPS IN UNLOVED/ADVERSE SITUATIONS!
A positive attitude to life enabled Leah to talk pragmatic too. With the birth of the next son she said, “This time my husband will treat me with honour” (Genesis 30:20). Her expectancy from her husband had changed in the long-run. She understood that her status as a honoured one was better than an unloved wife. Though love is an important factor in a marriage, I believe that the most important and practical thing in a relationship is respect and honour for one another. Turning to Rachael we find that, her very longing for a child took her life! She named that son Benjamin meaning, “son of my sorrow” and then died (Genesis 35:18). She was beautiful, got all of her husband’s love but had struggles in getting children. In those biblical times the places of burial of a person had a connection to honour ascribed to the dead person. While Rachael died during a journey and had to buried on the way, it was Leah and Jacob who were laid together in their family tomb after their deaths! Those who believe in the Bible can also understand the fact that Leah in eternal glory came to know a progressive fact that she was the honourable mother of Levi (the priestly class) and Judah (the royal class) and Jesus, the God incarnate. Thinking practical (it has to be ethical too!) yields eternal dividends! Thinking impractical leads us to troubles and struggles. ‘Why do you want to set your eyes on that which is not?” (Proverbs 23:5) We are immortal beings headed to two destinations, either heaven or hell! THINKING PRACTICAL OF WHAT WOULD EVENTUALLY HAPPEN IN THIS LIFE AND LIFE AFTER DEATH HELPS IN UNLOVED/ADVERSE SITUATIONS!
Being content in their situations (either Leah’s or Rachael’s) would have been ideal. Leah lacked beauty and her husband’s love, but learnt to talk positive and think practical. This shows that she was content in her life. Rachael had beauty and her husband’s love, but struggled for children! It was Leah who learnt to feel pleased in an unloved situation! We worship a God who is sovereign and who controls the lives of his children. So may we too say like Paul, “….. I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11) FEELING CONTENT BY TRUSTING IN THE SOVEREIGN GOD IN UNLOVED/ADVERSE SITUATIONS HELPS!
We are humans with our real feelings in unloved relationships and adverse situations. Who then gives strength for such humanly impossible attitudinal changes? Paul tells us the secret of such a strength. He says, “I can do everything through God who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12-13) The God who gave Leah the needed strength to survive an adverse situation can truly give the same to a true worshipper of Yahweh! I realize that any human love is insecure. But I have found that there is a secure love in Jesus. So I would suggest: Seek Jesus! He would help any one to live a happy and content life in unloved, adverse situations.