It is the quintessential high school drama. Two teenage boys, friends, but both are infatuated with one girl. The girl chooses one, and passes over the other. It’s almost a rite of passage for young men, isn’t it, learning to deal with rejection? Coping with the sight of the girl you wanted to be yours, cuddling up beside your friend.
This situation plays itself out in dozens of ways throughout our lives. It happens when the coach benches you and plays someone else. It is experienced when a co-worker is offered the promotion or job that you so desired. This type of rejection can cause one to feel ignored, unwanted, or even unloved.
These life situations give us an experiential understanding of Bible narratives. These experiences help us to not only grasp the story on a deeper level, but they also help us feel the pain of those we read about. They help us enter into the story.
As we reflect on Genesis 29, it helps us read between the lines and anticipate what is going to happen next. The Scripture introduces the drama with clear indicators: “Now Laban had two daughters: the older was named Leah, and the younger was named Rachel. Leah had tender eyes, but Rachel was shapely and beautiful” (vv.16–17).
From the very beginning of the story, Jacob was infatuated with Rachel. This makes perfect sense: Rachel was beautiful. But under the veil of night, Jacob was deceived into marrying Leah, the sister with tender eyes. It is made clear in the text that both Laban and Jacob favored Rachel.
However, the Lord saw that Leah was hated. In the Old Testament the language “hated” often refers to being passed over and is not always an indicator of animosity. Even so, their treatment of Leah causes God to favor her over Rachel. Rachel is barren, but Leah becomes the mother of many tribes.
What becomes abundantly clear in this story is the fact that God sees Leah’s neglect, He hears her cries, and He turns her sorrow into praise. Regardless of how Laban and Jacob treated her, Leah knew that God had shown her kindness.
Our God is not a distant deity. We are often reminded of this comforting truth when no earthly comforts are afforded us. In fact, it is often the most bitter of circumstances that sweeten His presence all the more. When we cannot have the love we want, we are most deeply assured that God’s love is all we need.
When we are passed over and rejected, it is important to remember that God has not left us or forsaken us. He may be doing something in and through our situation that we cannot imagine. But in time, we may be able to look back in retrospect and praise His name. The Lord has tender eyes for His troubled children.
Written by Matt Capps