Growing up in church I heard Bible stories over and over again. Naturally I assumed that they happened the way everyone says. But when I started reading the Bible for myself, I realized it's not always what you're told. One of the stories that stuck out to me is the story of Jacob, Rachel and Leah. Mainly the misrepresentation of the character Leah, and the glorification of Rachel. Genesis 29-31. I encourage you to read that thoroughly. The Bible is THE source of truth. It gives us the whole picture of what happened. Usually we hear the story told from Jacob's perspective. I want to tell it from a different perspective. I might even introduce someone you thought you knew before.
Meet Leah, daughter of Laban. You may have heard of her before. She also has a younger sister named Rachel. It's easy to think of her as just a Bible character. But she was a real girl who actually lived. She grew up and had feelings and emotions just like you. In fact the Bible describes her as "tender eyed." Maybe she cried a lot. Maybe her eyes were crossed, or she couldn't see well. But other than that, she was a normal girl. She may have even been beautiful, despite her eyes.
One day would change Leah's life forever. Her sister Rachel is running in from the fields. Running to their father Rachel tells him about this man named Jacob, his sister's son. Her father runs out to meet Jacob, and welcomes him into their home. Her father asks Jacob what kind of payment he wants for his wages working for him. Jacob wants one thing. "I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter" he says. Laban doesn't find that to unreasonable, he agrees.
Seven years later. Her father has gathered all the men and prepared a huge feast. Maybe she was surprised when her father came to her that night, sending her to Jacob. What if she didn't want to? What if she didn't think it was right? Whatever her thoughts were, her father had told her to do something. She would do it.
Jacob is not happy. He wanted Rachel. How does it feel Leah? Your husband doesn't love you. He wants to marry someone else, and you haven't even been married a week yet. Love is a choice, Jacob. Are you being selfish wanting Rachel for her looks?
Why Jacob? Why do you hate Leah so much? Is it her eyes? You know God says that "Favor is deceitful and beauty is vain." Rachel may be more beautiful, but does she love God? Or does she still worship her father's idols? Jacob marries Rachel anyway, and works seven years for Laban in exchange.
Step into Leah's shoes for a minute. Can you imagine what life was like for her living with people who bitterly hate her? I honestly can't imagine that.
Jacob loves Rachel more, Leah knows that. Rachel and Jacob both hate her. But God sees. God is with her, and He will reward her. God soon gives her four sons, and one of them would be an ancestor to the Messiah!
Little sister is not happy. Leah has had for sons already, she is envious. "Give me children, or else I die!" she tells Jacob. I guess she doesn't understand that God is the One who decides if she gets children or not.
Even after she thought she was done having children, God gave her more. And at the end of her life, I think Jacob finally realized that he was wrong about her. Why? Well when Rachel died, she was simply buried. But when Leah passed away Jacob made a special effort to have her buried in Canaan. In the same place that Abraham and Sarah, and Isaac and Rebekah were buried. The same place where Jacob himself would be buried.
There is a whole lot more that I could say about Leah and Rachel. I could tell you about how Rachel brought the idols with them when they left for Canaan. Or how God gave Leah a longer life. But I'm writing this because I hope it will getting you thinking. Maybe read the story for yourself, it's found in Genesis 29-31. When I did, I found a kindred spirit in Leah that I never saw before. She was not perfect, she had her share of mistakes. But God must have blessed her for some reason.
The Bible doesn't tell us a lot about Leah's faith or relationship with God. But what it does tell us is how God treated Leah, and how the others treated Leah. Throughout the Bible we see person after person whom man has rejected, hated, cast off. But God loves and uses those people, sometimes more than the others. You may think you're unattractive. You may not have a million friends. You may be downright hated. But God can use YOU! And He wants to! But first, you have to let Him.