Rejected. Ignored. Refused. Not too many things sting quite like the pain of rejection. To feel that something about us is not good enough hurts, especially when there is the added pain of comparison.
Besides Jesus Himself, I don’t think anyone in the Bible suffered the pain of rejection quite like Leah. My heart always aches for her.
The oldest daughter in her family, she should have been the first married off, but her younger sister Rachel caught the eye of Jacob because she was beautiful “in form and appearance” (Genesis 29:17, ESV).
Leah, on the other hand, had “weak eyes” (17). The Hebrew word translated weak in this verse can mean “soft, delicate, gentle, or tender” (NIV Exhaustive Bible Concordance, H8205).
Commentators differ on what this description actually means, from weary and dull to light blue eyes in a race of dark-eyed beauties. In Hebrew culture, bright eyes were admired. Leah’s weak eyes would have been considered a defect.
Rejection is painful.
The bottom line is that she was not wanted by Jacob because of her looks. For any woman, that is painful to bear. For her father, it was too much to bear.
So although Laban had promised Rachel to Jacob in exchange for seven years of work, after the wedding feast, he deceitfully sent Leah in to lie with Jacob instead, marrying off his oldest daughter first according to custom.
When Jacob awoke and saw that he had been tricked, he was angry.
“‘What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?'”Genesis 29:25
So, Laban agreed to give Rachel to him also in exchange for seven more years of labor. Because of his love for Rachel, Jacob agreed. But he didn’t love Leah.
“So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah…”Genesis 29:30
Leah was tolerated but not chosen.
Have you ever felt that way? Maybe a painful divorce left you feeling unwanted, a job promotion didn’t go your way, or a friend left you out of her group.
Let your desperation be for God alone.
At first Leah became desperate for Jacob’s love and attention, and sometimes we do that, too.
God opened her womb because he saw that she was hated (31). As she began to bear children for Jacob, she clung to the hope that with each son, she would win Jacob’s affection.
She called the first son Reuben “‘because the LORD has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me'” (32).
She called the second son Simeon because “‘now the LORD has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also'” (33).
The third son she named Levi because she said, “‘Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons'” (34).
With the birth of every son, Leah hoped that Jacob would love her. But at some point, she realized that it wasn’t Jacob’s love she craved. Leah finally came to the realization that the love and approval of God was what really mattered in her life.
“And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, ‘This time I will praise the LORD.’ Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she ceased bearing children” (35).
Let your approval come from God alone.
No more desperation for Jacob, no more feeling hated by him. Just praising the Lord.
Leah saw what we need to see: all the striving in the world for love and acceptance won’t fulfill us–only God can do that. When we change our focus from the people we are trying to please to the God we want to please, He fills us with joy and peace that can’t be gained elsewhere.
Even though her own sister became jealous and they continued to battle over Jacob and child-bearing, Leah continued to find her joy in the Lord, and His favor was on her.
She looked to God to bless her and cause her to be honored from that point on. And He did. The promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob of the coming Messiah who would bless the whole world with salvation was fulfilled not through Rachel, but through Leah.
God saw the heart of the one rejected and unloved, and He chose her.
“‘If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.'”John 15:19
“For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.”1 Thessalonians 1:4-5
You, beloved, are chosen too. You are not tolerated. You are cherished by your heavenly Father. Accept it. It matters not what you see in the mirror, how you feel on your worst day, or what anyone else thinks of you.
Go and bear fruit for His Kingdom.
You are chosen out of the world to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him. So refocus your heart and mind away from the desperate strivings for acceptance and approval and toward the praise and glory of the Lord.
When you understand the compassionate heart of your Father, you will want to know and serve Him more. And that is why you were chosen.
“‘You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask in my name, he may give it to you.'”John 15:16
We were chosen by the King of all creation. Instead of wasting time nursing the sting of rejection, we are free to bear fruit with joy and praise. Like Jesus, who bore the deepest pain of rejection ever, let’s turn our eyes to heaven and walk in the authority and anointing of the calling of God on our lives.
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”Colossians 3:12-14
Let’s forgive those who hurt us, who make us feel less-than, and let’s set our hearts on serving God and praising Him.
After all, He didn’t choose us for nothing.
How have you overcome the sting of rejection? Join the conversation!