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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Unloved


 


                Our society is contaminated with people who feel unloved, unwanted and unvalued. This plague is especially evident in the huge number of dead-beat dads Consider this data on single mother homes: “Official U.S. data shows that 63 percent of youth suicides (5 times the average), 70 percent of youths in state-operated institutions (9 times the average) and 85 percent of children with behavioral disorders (20 times the average) are from fatherless homes. The National Principals Association Report stated that 71 percent of all high school drop outs (9 times the average) come from fatherless homes. Other research reveals that 75 percent adolescents in chemical abuse centers (10 times the average) and 85 percent of youths in prison (20 times the average) come from homes without a father’s presence.”[1]

Girls without fathers are notorious for their promiscuity[2], which researchers believe serves both as a form of “self-mutilation” as they devalue themselves and an ongoing search for appreciation.[3] Boys who feel unaccepted are likewise drawn to gangs, where they can feel both valued (as part of the group) and valuable (as they defend the group by violence, graffiti, et cetera).[4] The desire to belong is so fundamentally a human need[5], that when it is missing it will always be sought out elsewhere, and will consistently be sought in the wrong places. My own anecdotal experience, which I was not able to find research on, indicates that children raised in unloving homes will grow up to marry unloving spouses, constantly seeking their approval, but never really gaining it.

A Whirlwind Romance


It is with this somber knowledge that we turn to a story in the Bible of a woman who was totally unloved. Her parents named her Leah, which means either wild-cow[6]or weary[7], neither of which compares favorably with her younger sister Rachel, which comes from the root word for lamb. Rachel was beautiful, Leah was not. Rachel was cherished, Leah was apparently not. Think about living in that family situation, and standing in Leah’s shoes! Now, imagine that a man, Jacob, has come to town. Immediately upon seeing your sister, he kissed her and shouted. He has now agreed to serve your father for seven years, with the sole payment being your sister’s hand in marriage. Your own lot begins to look even more pitiful by comparison.

When the time came for the wedding, there was a great feast. From a combination of a veil, seven years of anticipation and probably some feastly beverages, Leah’s father is able to send Jacob to bed with the wrong sister. Rachel is withheld from him, and Leah sleeps with him. What a message Leah’s father has sent to her: the only way any man will ever love you is if we trick him. If you have talked to many young women, I believe you will have no problem figuring out why Leah went along with it. She was held under the same delusion as many other girls have since: she believed she could make Jacob love her with sex, marriage or both. If she just went along with this, then she would be cared for and valued.

Like many before and after her, Leah found out how wrong she was the following morning. Imagine her tender anticipation as she reveals herself, she is vulnerable and her husband is seeing her for the first time as his wife. Genesis 29:25:

“So it came about in the morning that, behold, it was Leah! And he said to Laban, ‘What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served with you? Why then have you deceived me?’”

Can you feel Leah’s heartbreak? As far as the Scripture records, he said nothing to her, but stormed out to confront her father. Her father’s suggestion is certainly somewhat short of romantic (Genesis 29:27):

 “Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also for the service which you shall serve with me for another seven years.”

Finish your honeymoon with the cow this week, and we can have another wedding when you get back. Then you can work for seven more years in exchange for her[8]. Jacob agrees, and the more or less unsurprising outcome is as follows (Genesis 29:30).

So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and indeed he loved Rachel more than Leah, and he served with Laban for another seven years.

Your husband is also married to your sister, and he makes no secrets of who his favorite is. In fact, at least some of the time, you have to bargain with your sister to sleep with the man who is your husband (Genesis 30:14-16). What can cure this devastation?

Delusion


 

Genesis 29:31–32

31  Now the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, and He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.  32  Leah conceived and bore a son and named him Reuben, for she said, “Because the Lord has seen my affliction; surely now my husband will love me.”

 

Doesn’t that break your heart to read? Leah gets pregnant, and her first thought is: “Now he will love me!” Sex and marriage didn’t work, but a baby surely will! It would be unbelievable if you didn’t feel certain that you know this girl. Of course, a person’s love cannot be bought so easily, as so many who have walked down this road have found out. Think about the statistics earlier: how many gang members, promiscuous youth and drug addicts have gotten mixed up with the wrong crowd looking for acceptance, which was fading away from the moment they obtained it.  

 

33  Then she conceived again and bore a son and said, “Because the Lord has heard that I am unloved, He has therefore given me this son also.” So she named him Simeon.

34  She conceived again and bore a son and said, “Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore he was named Levi.

 

The process continues, but of course, nothing changes. No one expects it to, except for Leah.  We have just swept over what was probably at least three years of her life[9], where she has continuously expected that she will earn her husband’s love, if she waits just a little longer. If she could do a little more for him, then he would care. Maybe he did treat her more kindly during her pregnancy and fueled this anticipation, and she would look back on that time to justify her present expectation. Since people don’t change, I am sure she said things like: “He isn’t always like this! He used to love me!”  But she had no fulfillment. She looked, but did not find. Unloved, unaccepted and hopeless! What a tragic story.

35  And she conceived again and bore a son and said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” Therefore she named him Judah. Then she stopped bearing.

Leah, at last giving up on winning her husband’s love with children, decides to praise the Lord. Instead of seeing the blessings in her life as a way to win the love of others, she now sees it as evidence of the One who already loves her. Her circumstances did not change – I cannot point you to a Bible passage where Jacob comes to cherish Leah for who she is, even after Rachel dies in childbirth – but her perspective did. She is not perfect after this, she has discovered the secret – do not look to win human love, but look at the One who already loves you.

What are you giving away in your life as an effort to win the affection which you know you will never really have? We all have holes in our life, but God has given us unshakeable belonging in Jesus. If you have come to Christ, He has made you His child and accepts you on those intimate terms; he has overlooked all of your faults and sins and taken you up with unconditional, radical love.

He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

Ephesians 1:5-6




[2] This study from 1974 is available in full text online, and reports a strong correlation between a father-daughter relationships and promiscuity (defined in the study as extra-marital sex at least once a week, with a different person at least every third time): http://www.amsciepub.com/doi/pdf/10.2466/pr0.1974.34.3.1013
[4] Burnett, Gary, and Garry Walz. Gangs in the schools. ERIC Clearinghouse, 1994.
[5] Consider the severity in the Old Testament of being ‘cut off from your people.’
[6] Brown, Francis, Samuel Rolles Driver, and Charles Augustus Briggs. Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 2000.
[7] Gesenius, Wilhelm, and Samuel Prideaux Tregelles. Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2003.
[8] Payment plans always sound better when you get the product up front.
[9] Since breastfeeding would have been the only option (Walmart did not stock Gerber’s at the time),  it could have been much longer, since some women are infertile during that time.

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