People Who Say Such Things: Walk the Painful Path from Frustrated Desires to Core Longings Fulfilled

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February 14, 2020

Genesis 29:31-35 (NIV)

31 When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. 32 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.”

33 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.

34 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.

35 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.

CONSIDER THIS

We come to a painful marriage story on, of all days, Valentine’s Day. 

It would behoove you to read the first thirty verses of Genesis 29. It is a whopper of a story and provides context for today’s text. You can see it here

In short, Jacob had two wives, Leah and Rachel—”sister wives” in the literal sense of the term. He was tricked into Leah in order to get the one he truly loved, Rachel. It falls into the category of, “what comes around goes around.” Jacob got a taste of his own medicine. Jacob did not love Leah, and she knew it. 

Marriage has always been a mess. I find it helpful to revisit the curse issuing from the fall in the Garden of Eden; particularly the curse upon the woman, which you will note extended into the marriage.

To the woman he said,

“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.” Genesis 3:16

We see the curse at play in today’s text. Leah’s desire was for her husband. He ruled over her. Year’s ago I learned a prescient saying that continues to instruct me in all relationships: “Who loves least has all the power.” It’s why most all relationships have power struggles, especially marriage. I understand Genesis 3:16b in an an if-then frame, and I see it extending interchangeably between spouses. If your desire is for your spouse, your spouse will rule over you.

There is a lot of nuance here so I will try to be clear. Surely it must be permissible to desire one’s spouse. The issue is our core desire or longing. If our core longing is for our spouse, we are in for endless disappointment. The truth, whether we realize it or not: Our core desire is for God alone. Only God can fulfill the core desire of our deepest heart. Our big problem comes when we seek to fulfill our core desire with someone or something other than God. Whoever or whatever that is we unwittingly turn into an idol. We turn to this person or thing to meet our core needs instead of God. We inevitably become a needy and unfulfilled person. This invariably makes us unattractive, no matter how outwardly appealing we may be. No matter how little or how much our partner tries to love us, we will feel insecure and unloved at the core. This is why there are so many loveless marriages all around us. 

Leah does everything she possibly can to get Jacob to love her. 

32 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.”

33 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.

34 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.

How many couples over the years have turned to the solution of children to try and heal their broken marriage? It never works. Three kids later Leah finds the cure to her deeply broken heart. It comes with the fourth child as her heart turns from her husband to her God. 

35 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.

The solution is always found in turning to God, who alone can heal the broken hearts of a man and a woman, and only then can he heal the marriage. Our disordered desires and longings, which give rise to so much of our brokenness as people, can only be healed and ordered by an abiding relationship with our Father, through the person of his Son, Jesus Christ, in the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. 

“This time I will praise the Lord.”

People who say such things show us what transformed desire looks like. After all the agony and pain of trying to satisfy her neediness through meeting the needs of another person she finally turned to the Lord, and he healed her broken heart. 

“This time I will praise the Lord.”

Here’s the beautiful part. At the end of Jacob’s life, as he instructed his sons with these words that he wanted to be buried at the family’s burial site: There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah. Genesis 49:31

Jacob buried Leah in the place of honor. By the mercy of God she was transformed along the way from needy to lovely. In receiving the love of God, he heart was healed and readied to truly love and be loved by another person. How’s that for Valentine’s Day?! 

“This time I will praise the Lord.”

She named this fourth child, Judah, which means praise. And we know who came from the tribe of Judah. We know him as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah—Jesus Messiah. 

People who say such things show us how our desperation, when brought to God, can lead to the fulfillment of our deepest desires. 

THE PRAYER

Father, I want to be a person who says such things. I want my deepest desires to be fulfilled in you alone. Forgive me for the ways I repeatedly turn to other things and to other people to fulfill my desires. I confess so often my effort to meet the needs of others is merely a thin veil covering over my efforts to satisfy my own neediness. Teach me to bring my neediness to you. Train my heart to say, “This time I will praise the Lord.” Come Holy Spirit, and train me be such a person of faith. I pray in Jesus name, Amen. 

THE QUESTION

Have you or are you experiencing love-less-ness in marriage? Do you know others who are experiencing this right now? Lift this word up over your marriage or that of another, “This time I will praise the Lord.” Perhaps encourage them by sending them today’s Daily Text.  

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

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