Just over the weekend, SP used a text from Genesis 29 for his sermon. And it really had me thinking. You see, whenever we mention Jacob's family, at Jacob's level, not the next generation with his kids, we almost always immediately think of Rachel his wife, and then give an afterthought to his first wife, and Rachel's older sister, Leah. Which I'm guessing she got a lot of in her time, since Rachel was the pretty one, while she was the plain one.
And it was really strange, because in most Bible stories, Leah was made out to be the antagonist in the family. But when SP spoke from her viewpoint, it suddenly dawned on me that she had a really sad life. Imagine being compared to your sister all your life as the ugly half. Then you find a guy whom you like, but who wouldn't give you a second look because you're not half as good looking as your sister, who you probably took good care of. Then your father uses you to cheat the boy, to gain free labor from him (and probably to quickly marry you off). And then for your marriage, even though you give him what every man wants, many sons, he still loves your sister more.
I can't convey it here, but I really felt sad for her. I mean, not only for her life, but even after that, people have only seen her as 'that other sister'. And in a way, I felt a sense of solidarity with her, because very often, I feel as if I am an afterthought in people's minds. Not with regard to my brother, of course (or my sister, for that matter), but to others. Doesn't help that I seem to have an inferiority complex that regularly beats me down, though strangely enough, I seem to have enough arrogance for three people. Must be the OCS training.
So I could almost sense her increasing depression as she gave birth to Reuben, then to Simeon, and after that, to Levi. At first, it would seem that God was trying to help her, to make Jacob open his eyes and notice her, because she was providing him with a bloodline. And her thoughts, though each one barely measures half a verse in the Bible, marked her increasing sadness and desperation to gain just a little bit of recognition from her husband.
But finally, I guess she just gave up, and chose instead to honor the One who had given her all her sons. So when she got to her 4th kid, she called him Judah, as a form of praise to God. And then she stopped having kids (for a while).
And now we see what God was really trying to drive at. He wasn't being nice to Leah, allowing her to have sons, so that she could get Jacob to take notice of her. It was really for her benefit, to let her finally realize that she should not be looking to please her husband, but to give praise to God for being there and giving her things to be thankful for.
And while the Bible doesn't quite have as many "happily-ever-after" stories as Disney, in this case, there was a happy ending, as she ended as the honored wife, and after she died, she was interred in the family's plot. And Jacob, when speaking to his sons, told them to bury him next to her.
And as I still felt some solidarity with Leah, it really smacked me in the head a bit too. I mean, I know that I should choose to look at the big picture. To keep my focus on God, instead of on my friends, or my problems, or even myself. But sometimes, knowing it is not nearly enough. I can know all that, but I still end up looking down at my sorry situation, instead of choosing to look up at the heavens (空を見上げる, as I found in some of my songs).
So I tried to stop looking down, and to start looking up, to give all my troubles to God instead of trying to hide it inside me where no one else would see. To not worry about what would happen, but to just give praise up to Him. Which can be really hard at times. But sometimes, it's easier to try and do it just before you sleep. Then you don't need to think so much about it. haha.
And strangely enough, while talking to one of my friends just the other day, I found out that, at least for him, I'm not as much as an afterthought as I thought myself to be. Yes, I know, it's nothing much. In fact, it sounds somewhat off to be happy about such things, but I felt happy, so give me a break.
The Bible mentioned that Leah had weak eyes. I'm glad that she used them well, to find God, and look at Him instead of herself. And in my books, that means she had good eyes.
Here's to using our weak eyes in a good way.