Open Your Bible
Genesis 29:1-35, Psalm 63:1-4, Matthew 1:1-16
Whatever my four-year-old niece is doing, she wants my sister, her mom, to be watching.
“Look at this, Mommy!”
“Look over here, Mommy!”
It’s as if whatever ball she is throwing, twirl she is doing, or somersault she is attempting doesn’t count unless her mom sees her.
This desire to be seen is innate in us all, and it doesn’t disappear with childhood. As we read today, a full-grown woman can ache with longing when she knows she is not seen.
Leah is unloved and unwanted. Jacob loved her sister, Rachel, more than her. Rachel is described as “shapely and beautiful.” Leah is described as ordinary. Oh, could this story hit more close to home? Who hasn’t felt less than, like not enough in comparison to the women around you?
This story gives me flashbacks to my tall, gangly adolescent self. I knew I was neither shapely nor beautiful. I watched both of my sisters—inside and out, the most beautiful women I know—be crowned Homecoming Queen and Prom Queen and I wondered, does anyone see me? If I am not wearing a crown, am I still worth something? In high school, it’s hard to believe that you are.
Leah is aware that God sees her: “The LORD has seen my affliction,” she says (Genesis 29:32). “The LORD heard that I am unloved” (v.33). But her response to God’s attention is to then desire the attention of Jacob. As she says after she bears three sons, “Surely my husband will love me now… At last my husband will become attached to me” (vv.32,34).
I wonder if we are all born with an innate desire to be seen because we already are. But instead of resting in God’s attention and care, we crave the attention of others. We want the crown, the sons, the stamp of approval that will make us feel loved and seen by everyone but God.
Interestingly, our story does not end with Jacob giving Leah his stamp of approval. Instead, after the birth of her last son, Judah, it is a different stamp of approval that Leah desires: “This time I will praise the Lord” (v.35). No craving for Jacob’s love. No hoping for his attachment. Her attention is now on the One who’s always paid attention to her, the One who’s loved her all along.
Judah would eventually be Israel’s greatest tribe. Jesus’s bloodline would point back to Judah by name, while the others are referred to as “his brothers” (Matthew 1:2). Leah and her plight would be memorialized forever in history. But she knew none of this when she praised the Lord.
What is the reason you feel unseen? Whose attention do you crave? Do you believe you are heard by God, seen by God? If so, this time, this day, instead of longing for the gaze of that person, or those people, rest in the gaze that is already on you. You don’t have to beg Him to “Look!” He is already looking. This time, praise the Lord.