Leah’s Youngest Son

On Mondays we fast and pray for God-driven change: for men to lead, for women to soften, and for marriages to be given those who desire them.

I have this idea that I can listen to podcasts while I do other small jobs at home.  It never works.  I either stop listening to the podcast or am so immersed in listening that I forget what I was supposed to be doing.  So thirty-five minutes later, I find myself sitting on my bedroom floor confused as to why I have Windex and paper towels in my hand.  #springcleaning

I had the latter response to Tim Keller’s The Struggle for Love podcast. It’s an old sermon but it was so good to hear it.  The classic story of Jacob, Leah and Rachel has so many angles and applications, but I think Keller’s sermon is particularly relevant for us as single women.

One of his most interesting points was the progression in the names Leah gives her sons. See the whole story in Genesis 29.  I had never stopped to look at all the names next to one another but I was struck by how honest she is:

  • Reuben: “Because the Lord has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me.”
  • Simeon: “Because the Lord has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also.”
  • Levi: “Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.”
  • Judah: “This time I will praise the Lord.”

And Keller makes the point that the Lord is gradually redeeming Leah’s heart over the course of having these sons.  When she finally gets to Judah (who, incidentally, is in the Messianic line), she is making no mention of the husband whose approval she so desperately craved.  She is simply saying that this time there is praise and it is for the Lord.

I often feel that these years of singleness and dating and the weddings of my friends/family are a giant cycle.  And at the end of each cycle, I’m still confused, still disappointed, still selfish, still unseen, still struggling for direction, still single. So I start the cycle again, hoping that this time something will actually happen so that it ends differently this time. When I view my life that way, I wonder if I am actually being Leah with her earlier children. I am effectively saying “Now!  Finally! This new circumstance will surely change my reality! I can live my life fully and with zest and with purpose and with closure.”

Of course that’s a grand lie, but it’s a powerful one because it tells me that cosmic soul-level certainty is only one diamond ring away. It’s not.  Cosmic certainty is Jesus Christ crucified and risen and returning.  That is the only circumstance that allows us to live in freedom and forgiveness.  So this Monday at lunch, I think my new catchphrase is going to be, “This time, I will praise the Lord.”

Here’s to Mondays full of freedom and praise and a half-cleaned house (oops),


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12 Responses to Leah’s Youngest Son

  1. Sylvia says:

    Thank you for sharing your (and Tim’s!) insights, Amy. Even your podcast anecdote was helpful as an example of how I can use my time more wisely for spiritual edification. . . even if the housecleaning doesn’t get done! I heeded your suggestion to read the Genesis account “firsthand” rather than skipping the Bible reading, as I sometimes do when lazy. So, thank you also for including the reference.

    Just as Laura commented, I too was reminded of yesterday’s sermon on marriage and the constant struggle of sacrificing for another person. Leah’s story has always made me sad for her, imagining the range of emotions she must have felt: low self-esteem, jealousy, being desperate to please, loneliness and isolation. Perhaps her father’s intentions were good, but his methods certainly were not, and she paid the price of being an unwanted wife.

    I consider that theme of “unwanted-ness” as one of the hardest aspects of being a single woman. But I also think it is exactly the spot where we should fight the hardest, because Satan will do everything to make us believe that we are undesirable, unattractive, un-whatever. During my low times, it’s a lie easy to accept, and next thing I know, I am focused on myself and not very useful for Kingdom work. But when I am in a positive mind-frame, connected to the Vine, I find security in the TRUTH that I am created in His image and loved unconditionally by God Himself. As you aptly said, Amy, that equals freedom and forgiveness. And that does make me want to praise the Lord as Leah did.

  2. Kristi says:

    Great post and a great idea! I love those OT stories and had never thought about Leah as someone I could identify with.

  3. Deb says:

    Thanks so much. I’m so glad I found this blog, It’s so comforting to find a group of women and writers who understand my struggle as a 40ish single woman. God’s blessing to you!

  4. beingindoors says:

    This really encouraged me! Thank you.

  5. Laura says:

    Wow!! This is EXACTLY what was preached at church yesterday. Guess I’m really meant to take it to heart! Thanks for being faithful in sharing it.

    • amy says:

      i love when that happens! by that point, i know it’s not an accident and there is something for me to listen to and learn from 🙂

  6. Neelam says:

    Ditto. . . . amen.
    I, too, will praise the Lord.


  7. MichelleMarie says:

    Thank you.

  8. I never saw the story this way before. Thanks for that powerful insight.

  9. butterfly says:


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