Encouragement for the Rejected
(The Story of Leah and Rachel)
Leah was ugly, squint-eyed, and wrinkle-checked. She was despised by her own sister, her husband, and her own servants. She herself frequently thought that God in heaven hated her and was angry with her.
Rachel, however, was beautiful, rosy, and young—everyone’s favorite child. Everyone embraced her. Jacob loved her like the apple of his eye. The servants waited on her hand and foot. Everyone supposed that she sat in God’s lap. Jacob himself thought that she must be the Messiah’s ancestor; it was Rachel’s honor by rights. Yet observe, dear heart, on whom was Jesus’ heart set? Which of the two did He choose for His ancestor? It was not beautiful and honored Rachel but ugly and undesirable Leah who would bring Judah, Jesus’ ancestor, into the world. Forsaken Leah thus entered the family of Christ; beautiful Rachel was pushed aside. Oh Lord Jesus, how sweet is Your faithful is Your faithful heart! “You help the miserable people, and the haughty eyes You bring down” (Ps. 18:27). You bring down the mighty from their seat and exalt the lowly, as Mary says in her Magnificat [Luke 1:52]. When Jacob looked away from Leah, You graciously looked toward her. Therefore Leah said, “The Lord has looked upon my affliction.” Like Mary she said, “He has regarded his lowly handmaiden.” When Jacob did not listen, You listened. What Jacob counted undesirable, You counted the more dear. Leah praised this when she said, “The Lord has heard that I am undesirable.” To him whom the world refuses to treat well You grant all the more grace. Him whom the world scorns You honor so much that he praises Your grace and says with Leah, “Now I will thank the Lord.”
O Lord Jesus, You are seated on high but You look upon that which is lowly [Ps. 113:5-6]. What the world casts off, You exalt. What the world thinks undesirable, You esteem. What the world counts trivial, You bring into great honor. Oh, regard my misery and neediness too! Let me also exp0erience this old favor of Yours. Grant that it may not hurt me when the world esteems me no more than Jacob did his squint-eyed Leah. Help me to endure when the world discounts me, as Rachel and her followers discounted poor Leah. The more the world hates me, the more comfort me. The less the world esteems me, the more honor me with Your blessing. Take me into Your family as You took in forsaken Leah. Regard me with Your eyes of mercy as You regarded Leah. Listen to me with open ears as You listened to Leah. Do me good as You did Leah good, and I will praise Your grace as Leah praised it, and thank You with joy as Leah thanked You. Help, O Lord Jesus, that the glory of Your name may be magnified among us wretched souls who are so undesirable to the world. Amen.
Valerius Herberger The Great Works of God, Parts Three and Four: The Mysteries of Christ in the Book of Genesis, Chapters 16-50 198-199