Blessing of Fertility for the Young, Single Mother - The Story of Jacob and Leah
The beginning of the story of the marriage of Jacob and Leah, captured in Genesis 29, is an interesting one. I am not intending to write this as a seminary trained theologian, but rather as a person who is reflecting and de-tangling a biblical narrative.
I find it interesting that Jacob uses his father's poor eyesight in order to gain his blessing. Then his uncle uses Jacob's own poor "eyesight" to attain a blessing for his oldest daughter Leah. I know there is debate about the meaning of the Hebrew adjective that describes Leah's sight, but what if it points to a form of blindness? Wouldn't that be appropriate? Jacob deceives his father taking advantage of his dad's difficulty in sight and as a result Jacob is deceived into marrying someone who has difficulty of sight? And the purpose of both deceptions is to attain a blessing?
And then this one sentence, stops me: "When the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren."
I think of all the blessings that I have been given, which include being married to my best friend and having a great marriage. I am blessed beyond measure!
Then I think of all the young teen girls who so desire to be loved and yet have never experienced real love in their lives. And God blesses them with a child who will love them unconditionally. Throughout my years of doing youth ministry I have learned without doubt that no child is a mistake. I have watched how becoming a parent will set a teen mom's life onto a better course. She is loved! She also now has someone with whom to share the love that she has imagined and so desired receiving herself! Why wouldn't God bless such a young woman with a child?
So I come to the story of Leah and I hear her grief. All the young men admire and love her little sister Rachel. Her dad is looking out for his oldest daughter and marries her to this young man Jacob who has worked so hard for him. Yet, this marriage, instead of resolving her sense of rejection, exaggerates it. Her husband gives her one week of attention, or pseudo-attention, and then quickly moves on to marrying her sister. She feels rejected and alone. So God opens her womb and gives her the blessing of a son. Leah's response, "Because the LORD has looked on my affliction; surely now my husband will love me." Then her second son is born and she responds, "Because the LORD has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also." Knowing that God sees and hears her does not meet her desire to have her husband's affections. A third son is born and she says, "Now this time my husband will be joined to me, because I have borne him three sons." When her fourth son arrives, she realizes that she won't find that satisfaction in a real relationship with her husband, but that nonetheless her God has heard her and she announces, "This time I will praise the LORD."
I know of some young women living in poverty who have had multiple children. Some would ask why they get to have so many. But when I walk closely with these women, I know they have incredible love to share and even though those children may not grow up with a strong human father figure or with much to eat, they will grow up knowing the unconditional love of both God and their mother! And that just makes me think a little about Jesus Christ! See, there is beauty in this type of familial relationship and it matters!