Let us return to Leah’s story for a moment. Leah was caught up in the struggle to earn her husband’s love. Three sons later, she was still clinging to the hope that one day he would wake up and start to appreciate her. She kept waiting and waiting. Eventually, Leah gave birth to another son, her fourth. Leah named him Judah and announced, “Now I will praise God.” Judah’s name means something special. It means to praise or be thankful to God. But, how could she praise God when her outward circumstances had not changed? Jacob did not rush home with a bouquet of roses and an apology card. Leah was no more loved now than she had ever been. But somehow, she was now worshiping and thanking God.
With the birth of her fourth son, Leah had a life-altering realization. She realized that while her husband refused to love her, God was present in her life! God had noticed every pain, every sorrow, every moment of rejection she had ever experienced and he was pouring blessing into her life. God loved her unconditionally!
You need to realize something important, as well. You may feel completely neglected and empty, but God is paying attention to you. You would not be reading this if that was not true. Right now, the God of the whole universe is trying to show you, there is a greater love and acceptance being offered to you than you ever thought existed. That love is God’s love. He loves you unconditionally.
Leah did not realize it at the time, but Leah, and her son Judah, were ancestors of a man named Jesus. This is the Jesus, whom Christians worship and who the entire Bible anticipated. It is a fitting end to the story because no one would ever offer greater hope and love than Jesus. He would offer exactly what Leah was trying desperately to find.
The Bible tells that Jesus was not merely a man, but the son of God Himself, who came to earth.
“Jesus knows better than anyone who you are; the good and the bad. He knows, because He took your place. He has already paid the price for your sins, and He did it before you ever paid a moment of attention to Him.”
He did so because God was not content to leave us in hopeless despair and rejection, stumbling our way through life trying to manufacture the love that had been lost all the way back in the Garden of Eden. Even though our own selfish hearts had blinded us from God’s love, God was determined to lead us back to it.
Jesus knew all too well this pain of rejection. He was rejected at times by His best friends, His own family, and in the end, by the world around him. Jesus lived a perfect life, never out of self-interest but always doing the will of God the Father, and offering Himself to serve and help those around Him. But no one recognized what He was doing.
They saw it as weakness and sentenced Jesus to death, and crucified Him. Jesus satisfied God’s justice, but was not rejected by God–or there would have been no resurrection!
Our rebellion and self-preference is disobedience to God, and that keeps us from a relationship with Him. We are not interested in His plan, we want our dreams to come true. So we reject Him and chart our own course. We ignore His instructions and believe whatever feels right to us. We turn down His love and try to replace it with romance and passion because it makes us feel good temporarily. This is the most remarkable part of the Gospel. God did not wait for us to call out to Him for help or love.
He blessed Leah even when she was caught up in trying to earn love for herself. God does not wait for you either. He chose to act on your behalf while you were still lost in your sinful and selfish ambitions. God took all of the punishment, that your disinterest and rebellion deserved, and He poured it out on Jesus, His only son. Jesus stepped into your place and accepted the punishment because He loves you.
The real struggle for love is our desire to be fully known, and yet fully accepted. When you hear the phrase, “Jesus loves you,” this is not a Christian cliché, but rather the truth of unconditional love. Jesus knows better than anyone who you are; the good and the bad. He knows every secret, every pain, every sin, and every wrong. He knows you better than you know yourself. He knows because He took your place. He has already paid the price for your sins, and He did it before you ever paid a moment of attention to Him.
Do you realize what that means? In Jesus, you are fully known and still fully accepted. Jesus is under no allusions. He knows exactly who you are. His love is not something you earned or deserved, yet here He is offering it to you. No one knows you better, and no one could possibly love you more. He gave his life for you. And now, He is willing to take the journey with you, from where you are, to where you need to be in Him; so that you can experience true love.