Now Laban had two daughters. The older daughter was named Leah, and the younger one was Rachel. There was no sparkle in Leah’s eyes, but Rachel had a beautiful figure and a lovely face. —Genesis 29:16 NLT
We like good advice. When the minutia of a verse lingered a bit too long and two in the group began to polarize in a Bible study a few years ago, a valuable sage with us at the table offered what is valuable to all. She said, “We have to look at what the at the whole message of scripture, not its little pieces.”
She’s right. I cannot argue this. What, then, can be said of the whole when this polarizing verse about Leah and Rachel exists? We cannot ignore it, for then we run the risk of embracing only verses that appease us. Neither Leah nor Rachel’s inner character and beauty is mentioned. Genesis 29:16 reads like an archaic beauty pageant. One becomes a contestant, the other never makes it to the stage.
In looking at the whole, God clearly loves us all. Each of us is also given a cross to bear, which Jesus speaks of many, many centuries later. This hurdle to overcome, this cross, may not be seen as a blessing at first. In fact, it is likely received as the opposite. No one welcomes pain and heartbreak, yet both Leah and Rachel experience sorrow. The sorrow is different for each, but the big picture here is that our own hardships can certainly lead us to pity and decades of despair, or our crosses, heavy as they are, can be picked up and carried not that we gain blessings that were never given to us. (Leah, for example, never scores BIG for her suffering and wins over her losses.) Rather, our cross carrying allows us so much more humility, the trait Jesus may see—and want—in us first and foremost.
PRAYER: Dear Lord, there is much not to like in this life because fairness and equality make for some tough days. Yet in our pain, our longstanding and subsequently embedded losses, we see the One who lost His life for us so that we, in touch and in tune with Him, may live forever in His keeping and with His joy. Amen.