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This Time I Will Praise The Lord
Genesis 29: 31-35,
And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb; but Rachel was barren. And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the Lord hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me. And she conceived again, and bare a son, and said, Because the Lord hath heard that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also: and she called his name Simeon. And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons: therefore was his name called Levi. And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, " Now will I Praise the Lord: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing."
When Jacob deceived his father Isaac with venison and bread, and by covering himself with skin from a goat to appear hairy, he received the blessing that should have gone to his brother Esau. It angered Esau that Jacob had twice deceived him, even to the extent that he promised to kill Jacob. Knowing what was in the heart of Esau against Jacob, Rebekah urged Jacob to leave, and go to Haran to her brother Laban's house.
After making the long trek to Haran, Jacob stopped by a well. There were shepherds there preparing to water their flocks. Jacob asked them if they knew his uncle Laban, which they affirmed. And about that time, they looked to see Rachel, Laban's daughter, coming to the well. When Rachel came near to Jacob, he removed the stone that covered the well, and then he kissed her. It was love at first sight. Jacob fell head over heels in love with the beautiful Rachel.
Laban though, had an older daughter, whose name was Leah. Leah was not as beautiful as Rachel. Leah was said to be weak eyed. Jacob, being in love with Rachel, agreed with her father to work seven years for the hand of Rachel in marriage. Jacob was so in love with Rachel that those seven years seemed like only a few days.
After all of the wedding festivities and drinking, Jacob went in to his new bride to consummate the marriage, only to find in the morning that Laban had given him Leah instead of Rachel. Jacob then agrees to work another seven years for Rachel, because of his great love for her, while Leah was not loved.
And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, and she began to bring forth sons for Jacob. At the birth of her first son, Leah decided to name him Reuben, surmising within herself that God had looked down on her affliction, and having a son for her husband would draw him to her, and that he would now love her the way he loved Rachel. Leah had the second son, and she named him Simeon, again surmising within herself this time, that the Lord had heard how she was hated, and still believing that her sons would make Jacob love her. Leah had yet a third son, and named him Levi, because this time she was certain beyond degree that Jacob would be joined to her. Finally Leah has her forth son, and she names him Judah, and she said, " This time I will Praise the Lord."
There Is A Place That We Come To In LIfe
Many of us can identify with the plight of Leah. Many of us can feel her pain and her deep seated longing to be loved and accepted. When we are truthful, we can look back over our own lives, and remember how much of ourselves we gave, for the love of someone else. Some of us can testify from first hand experience of not being loved, or of being shunned. Leah knew her father didn't love her. Her brothers, other family members, nor Rachel seemed to have had much love and adoration for her. Not one man from their community had been smitten by her grace, beauty, and charm, dated her, or asked for her hand in marriage. And to add insult to injury, the husband who had been tricked into marrying her, showed disdain towards her.
Like Leah, we have sometimes given up the love and protection of our own family, in order to be with a man or woman, who didn't love us. We have given up jobs and careers to show that person how much they mean to us, and still we were not loved. Many women have given birth to sons and daughters, believing that the children would solidify the relationship, and cause the man to stay. We have dabbled in all kinds of vices and sins, just to prove to someone that we love them, and to try an make them love us in return.
There is a place that we come to in life. It is a place of no longer yearning for the love of someone, but a place of learning to praise God. My father used to say, " Sometimes God has to lay us down, to make us look up." Sometimes a real and true praise of God is birthed through our hardships and pain. Sometimes it is in our night seasons, when all our friends are gone, when our family has turned their backs and walked away, that we reach the place. Sometimes it's being turned down for a loan, or having a mortgage company foreclose on your home, or not getting the promotion that you felt you deserved, to bring us to the place.
Leah got to the place after she had given birth to Jacob's fourth son, and she said, This time I will Praise The Lord. What does it take for you and I, before we come to the place of, This time I will praise the Lord?