There is a revelation of love in Christ that overwhelms any lack of love in this world.
Jacob loved Rachel. He was infatuated with Rachel from the moment that he laid eyes on her. But Jacob, the conniver, was tricked by Rachel’s father, Laban. Under the cover of darkness, Laban gave his daughter Leah to Jacob instead of Rachel.
Jacob had worked for seven years for Rachel; after the trickery, Jacob worked seven more years. Then, after fourteen years of labor, Jacob had two wives: Rachel and Leah.
In American culture, polygamy is, of course, taboo. But anyone who is married for long must admit that the person you marry isn’t always exactly who you thought you were marrying.
Author Craig Barnes, in his excellent study of Jacob entitled Hustling God, makes a startling assertion:
“Whoever it is that you love, that person is both Leah and Rachel. You may love one more than the other, but they are wrapped into the same person. Rachel is the one you love, and you’re sure that she will be the blessing to your life. But you can’t have Rachel without taking Leah, whom you don’t love, and frankly, didn’t think you were getting. However, not long after you are together you discover you didn’t get just Rachel. You’re also very involved with Leah, and you can work for years trying to turn her into Rachel.” p. 76
The problem wasn’t in Leah. The problem was in Jacob. Jacob lived by fantasies; he was ruled by visions of what the blessed life must be like. What Jacob needed to discover was the capacity to love what was real, not a fantasy.
I cherish the story of Leah because, in the end, the absence of her husband’s love doesn’t define her. There is a love in God that transcends the hurts of this world. Leah would have done anything to earn Jacob’s love. But what she needed to discover is that love can’t be earned. Love must be a gift.
God’s love is set upon you free and clear. Undeserved. Unmerited. But perfect. That’s the love of God. And that’s the Gospel!