Poor Leah, not only is she not the pretty one, but she's also not the desired one. Jacob never seems to cherish her or prefer her. It's not that he hates her - he just doesn't even think about her. The Book of God by Walter Wangerin imagines her thoughts as, "He didn't look at me with anything at all, neither a thought nor a word nor a feeling. when he looked at me he didn't see Leah. He saw not-Rachel." Can you imagine how she must have felt? Leah's only redeeming value is that she gives him children, which Rachel cannot do.
That leads us to the point of this post - idols. I know you're wondering how I got from children to idols but just wait and you'll see. Leah makes an idol out of Jacob's love. She is not fulfilled, she wants his love. She took what is normally a good desire, wanting her husband's love, and it grew into an idol - a MUST have! She attaches her happiness and worth and fulfillment to her husband's love. Leah's 1st 3 sons' names, in order of birth, mean "See, a son" (reflects her desire for Jacob to love her), "heard" (God's heard her lament and given her another child), and "attached" (she desires to be Jacob's one and only). But Jacob STILL doesn't love her! Her idol has been crushed and ground into the dirt. What should poor little Leah do?
She does what WE should do when our idols are lost - turn to the One who loves us more than anything. Leah finally comes to the realization that she has to stop pursuing Jacob's love and pursue God. Isn't God merciful to wake us up to His affection and desire for communion with us?
How do we know Leah makes a heart change? She names her 4th son, Judah, which means "praise". Genesis 29:35 says, "This time I will praise the Lord!" She turns from her idol and turns to the Lord! Now she's the calm, content, peaceful woman God created her to be!
I imagine that Jacob couldn't HELP but be attracted to her now. We haven't talked about what's going on with Rachel, but let's just say she's not content. At the end of Genesis Jacob asks to be buried in the same cave with Leah. How could he not be drawn to her "gentle, quiet spirit that comes from putting her hope in God" (1 Peter 3:4-5)? Her suffering led her into a deep intimacy with God as she turned away from her idol of acceptance by Jacob. She fell in love with her Savior!
Now, for Rachel. She's beautiful, desired, and beloved. She has Jacob wrapped around her little finger. But she could not have children. She tries every trick in the book - sticks and servants to name two. She curses Jacob in Genesis 30:1 - "Give me children, or I will die!" She wants sons, more sons than Leah has, and she wants them NOW! The sons from her servant, Bilhah, have names that mean, "judged" (she felt she had been judged by God and is now being rewarded), and "wrestled" (she'd finally prevailed over Leah). She spent her life in a quest for sons, mad at her husband, sister, and her God. She missed out on the life God longed for her to have.
How should WE respond when it seems the door is shut - on marriage, on children, on healing? Has God called us to a life of incessant pleading with Him? I don't think so. When we're not accepting of what God's given us, we're resisting His will. Dee Brestin says in her book, Idol Lies,
When we resist God, even if it seems like we're resisting for a good thing, we may actually be working at cross-purposes with Him. It's always hard to give up control, especially when it means the loss of a dream. But is it God's dream we're giving up - or ours?
What eventually happened to these women? What's the end of the story? Well, from Leah the whole priesthood descended through Levi; and from her son, Judah, came the Messiah! What a legacy she left! Rachel, on the other hand, died with bitterness on her lips. As she breathed her last breath she named her newborn son, Ben-oni "Son of my sorrow". She had what the world values - beauty, but not what God values - contentment and praise. Her idol was control and it produced bitterness, envy, deception, and despair.
So, I ask you - "What, if you lost it, would make life not worth living?"