Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Empty Places.

There is no story so sad as one of a woman who lives her life trying to please a man who never returns her devotion. Last night as my friend led an excellent class on the life of Jacob. I was again struck my Leah, Jacob's first wife. Dear Leah, given to Jacob deceptively by her own father, Laban, when all along Jacob wanted her younger prettier sister Rachel. Poor Leah, unwanted from the moment Jacob found her lying next to him the morning after a candlelit wedding ceremony.

Did Jacob jump out of bed when he rolled over to find Leah there instead of his true love? Did he leave Leah crying into her pillow confused and alone? My heart breaks when I think of those first few moments when Leah realized she was the second runner up, the less attractive. Jacob worked for fourteen years to earn Rachel. He was forced to marry Leah. He never wanted Leah from day one.
When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless.  Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.” Genesis 29:31
Surely my husband will love me now. I have a few friends who have spoken these very words. Surely, after I've done this, I'll be loved. After I've lost weight, had another baby, made more money, changed my hair, then he'll love me. Then I'll be accepted. Then he won't want that other woman. Then I'll be good enough.
She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Because the LORD heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon. Genesis 29:32
Leah, the unloved, how she walks around in despair living day to day depressed knowing her place! Her hopeless situation was seen by God. He hears her. He continues to bless her, but does she really see it? Does she get it? Is she still trying to earn Jacob's love? Or is she allowing the creator to provide love for her?
Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” So he was named Levi. Genesis 29:33
It isn't sinking in yet, Leah. Three healthy boys into this ill-fitted relationship and Jacob is still not into you. God is giving you joy through children, but you don't get it. Dear Leah, you are trying to fill your life with love from everywhere but from where it really matters.

God is good to me. I live a luxurious life in a country where I am free to come and go and worship as I please. I have a warm home. I have family who love me. Yet, there are holes in my life. There are days when I feel so lonely. There are bad days when something seems missing and the ache is more than I can bear. When those holes in my life gape empty I attempt to fill them myself. I fill them with food. Then I step on the scale and self-loathingly decide to run a few more miles. I stare in the mirror and berate the reflection and I fix me with a new hairdo. I buy things. I become malcontented with my blessings and blame those holes, those empty places, on my lack of stuff. I work more hours deciding that if I only make more money then I'll be filled. I determine to fill those holes, and it never works. After my futile attempts, I'm still lonely. I'm still unsatisfied with my reflection. I'm exhausted.

Moreover, some dear ones fill their emptiness with loveless affairs, alcohol, or drugs. Some of us fill our emptiness with temporary passions that only cause more pain, more solitude. Some of us simply live in want of more thinking that life is always better for someone else.

Leah is trying to fill that empty space. There is a cavern in her heart and she desperately needs love, affirmation, and attention. Leah tries to fill it on her own. It isn't as if Leah doesn't deserve love. Look how hard she works! She painstaking pleads to earn the love she desires, and time and again her attempts fall short. Leah is left standing alone with another baby to hold watching Jacob devotedly and gently hold Rachel's hand.
She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children. Genesis 29:34
This time she gets it. This time she gives credit to the life giver, the gaping emptiness filler. This time Leah praises the LORD. At Judah's birth Leah lets go of trying to fill a space that only her Father God can fill. And He does indeed fill that empty place in Leah's heart. Our sweet Leah never gets to see with her own weak eyes the true blessing of that last baby boy. Through the line of Judah, the child that brought Leah to praise, God blesses the earth with Jesus. Through Leah's praise and letting go, God gifted the world with the Savior, our permanent emptiness eraser.

It is enticing to attempt to fill our emptiness with anything but Christ. How often will we break our hearts as we try to patch up our empty places? Our temporary emptiness bandaids pale in comparison to the healer of all brokenness. I take comfort in that it took Leah years and several pregnancies to figure this out. The love of God and his provision is the only way to heal our loneliness, brokenness, and emptiness.

Father, fill the void within us with you and your ever-present healing love that never fades.
Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. Revelation 5:5

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully written. Clear, concise and to the point. I needed to read these words.


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