And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, “Because the Lord has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me.” She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the Lord has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also.” And she called his name Simeon. Again she conceived and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Genesis 29:32-34
Leah is in an arranged marriage and is desperate for love. She believes that if she does just the right things, her husband will love her. Every son that she delivers, she believes will earn her the affection she craves.
In this case however, Jacob never dangled the carrot of approval. He never said to her, “If you give me three sons, my heart is yours.” But many do make false promises and have no intention of keeping them. There is no hurt like the hurt that comes after broken promises. Yet, there’s something in us that keeps trying.
We all want unconditional love. We’re born that way. The only person who offers it without us having to do anything to earn it is God. But because we can’t see Him, and because we can see all the counterfeits that make us feel good, we’ll trade God in for something cheap. Sometimes we’ll transfer all our needs to another human being, and sometimes, to a deeply fallen one who has a history of promising love that never materializes. We’ll keep trying when we see this person loving someone else quite well. We believe that this love can also be ours.
Leah saw the light in Jacob’s eyes for Rachel. She saw the joy with which he labored for seven years without a thought for the sacrifice. She saw that he was a good man, an unselfish man, with a huge heart. It was natural for her to believe that she would earn the favor of a man like this.
Whose love are you trying to win today? How many years have you tirelessly performed, believing that there will be payoff? Whether the love you seek comes from a pretty good man like Jacob or a godless trickster, the likes of whom will break another’s heart easily, the lesson is the same. Unconditional love apart from God is an empty pursuit.
It is possible to love the one who has been an idol. Love will be expressed as an outpouring of the love you enjoy in God. The payoffs are these: 1.) You will know unconditional love and be at peace because of what God offers. And, 2.) You will no longer live handicapped because someone withholds what you believe you need to survive.
Wean me off any idolatrous relationship. Amen