Today I want to post on something that we’ve all experienced at one time or another during our lives – Rejection. Not long ago I posted on another emotion, fear, and how it causes us to act in certain ways. Today, I want to do the same thing with rejection. In order to do that I want to focus on the story of Jacob’s wife, Leah.
Genesis 29:18-23 (NKJV)
29:18 Now Jacob loved Rachel; so he said, "I will serve you seven years for Rachel your younger daughter." 19 And Laban said, "It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to another man. Stay with me." 20 So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her. 21 Then Jacob said to Laban, "Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in to her." 22 And Laban gathered together all the men of the place and made a feast. 23 Now it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter and brought her to Jacob; and he went in to her.
Jacob has followed his father’s advice and gone to his family to find a wife. As he arrives there, he meets Rachel, who is watering her father’s sheep and falls in love. So he makes a deal with her father to work for him for seven years, so that he can marry Rachel. But on his wedding night Leah is given to him. I don’t know how they pulled this off, but Jacob consummated the marriage with Leah, and didn’t discover it until the next day. Look at his reaction:
Genesis 29:25 (NKJV)
29:25 So it came to pass in the morning, that behold, it was Leah. And he said to Laban, "What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served you? Why then have you deceived me?"
Rightfully, Jacob was angry, seven years is a long time to work for one wife only to be tricked and receive another one, but what about Leah. Think about what she was feeling at that moment.
First, look at descriptions of the two women:
Genesis 29:16-18 (NKJV)
29:16 Now Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah's eyes were delicate, but Rachel was beautiful of form and appearance. 18 Now Jacob loved Rachel; so he said, "I will serve you seven years for Rachel your younger daughter."
Apparently, Jacob’s decision was made on Rachel’s appearance. Rachel had a good figure and a beautiful face. She was beautiful, but Leah was just described as having delicate eyes, whatever that means, perhaps she was nearsighted.
So Jacob has fallen for Rachel based on her looks. It wasn’t her character, because later in the story we see that Rachel was:
1. A thief – She stole her father’s household idols (Genesis 31:34)
2. A liar – She lied and deceived her father about them (Genesis 31:35), and
3. She tormented her sister (Genesis 30:8).
Leah was rejected because of her looks not her character. Then there’s this:
Genesis 29:30 (NKJV)
29:30 Then Jacob also went in to Rachel, and he also loved Rachel more than Leah. And he served with Laban still another seven years.
Jacob loved Rachel more that Leah. There are two rejections here:
1. Her father has no respect for her. He felt that he had to sneak her into Jacob or she’d never marry. Apparently, he thought she was too ugly to find a husband on her own.
2. And now Jacob, her husband, has rejected her, too. She must have felt like any woman whose husband has cheated on her.
Do you think Leah was aware that Jacob loved Rachel more? I’m sure that she was. You can see what she was feeling in the names of her first three children, Reuben, Simeon and Levi.
The name Reuben means seen, look at verse 29:32:
Genesis 29:32 (NKJV)The New International version says misery; The Amplified version says humiliation. She’s miserable; she’s hurting and she’s humiliated. She says, “Now maybe my husband will love me!”
29:32 So Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben; for she said, "The Lord has surely looked on my affliction. Now therefore, my husband will love me." “God has seen my affliction.”
Simeon means heard.
Genesis 29:33 (NKJV)
29:33 Then she conceived again and bore a son, and said, "Because the Lord has heard that I am unloved, He has therefore given me this son also." And she called his name Simeon.
“God has heard that I am unloved.” God’s heard her cries he’s given her a son. She wants to be loved. There’s no love in her marriage. This son will love her. This is a woman who’s suffering.
Then there is the third son, Levi. Levi means attached:
Genesis 29:34 (NKJV)
29:34 She conceived again and bore a son, and said, "Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons." Therefore his name was called Levi.
“My husband will become attached to me because I have borne him three sons…” The Amplified version says my husband will become a companion to me. She’s longing for the attachment and companionship of her husband. She can feel the rejection, “I've given him three sons, now MAYBE now he’ll care about me.
This is how rejection affects people – It causes pain and suffering. Look at this from an article in Forbe’s Magazine, “Rejection and Physical Pain Are the Same to Your Brain”:
For example, when someone feels physical pain, opoids are released in the brain so that the significance of the pain is inhibited. We now know this same experience occurs when people feel slighted or rejected by others.1
There is a reaction like physical pain that takes place in our brains. Your brain interprets rejection and physical pain in the same way. It also affects our personalities: How we relate to each other. We’re become afraid of rejection because of the hurt, so we lash out and drive people away before they can hurt us. In effect saying, “If I hurt them first, then they can’t hurt me.” Another strategy is to become competitive. In the story of Leah and Rachel, Leah wouldn’t give some flowers that Reuben had picked for her to Rachel. She used them to purchase Jacob’s attentions for the night.
We see competition play out in a contest to see who has the most loyalty among friends. We gossip and denigrate other to see whom people will choose to side with. A way of saying, “See, more people like me than him or her.” We want to see someone else rejected.
We want someone else to hurt because we already do. We use social media – cyber-bullying, and subtweets. Subtweets are just another form of Gossip. We assassinate people’s character, spiritually murdering them. All of these are a strategy for coping with rejection, but are these the right ways to cope? Not if you’re a Christian they’re not. Let’s look at how Leah handled her pain
How to Handle it
The Bible doesn’t come right out and say, “This is how you handle rejection.” But we can get a glimpse at how Leah handled it by looking at the names of the rest of their children. The first three names reflected her pain and misery; afterward she came to a decision about how to deal with her rejection. Look at these names:
Gad – A Troop (lots of sons.)
Asher – Asher means happiness
Issachar – Issachar means reward – God has rewarded her!
Zebulun – Zebulun means dwelling –
Where has the focus of Leah gone? Some time after Levi was born, Leah had a change of heart. Don’t stay in that Place of Pain. She’s not crying about her husband’s rejection anymore. She’s not thinking about what has been inflicted on her. She’s looking at what God has blessed her with and she’s happy. I’ve said this many times, “Happiness is a decision we make. It comes from what we choose to focus on. We can choose to focus on the hurt and what we don’t have, or we can choose to dwell on the blessings. Leah has chosen to focus on the blessings.
One other thing is that sometimes the rejection we feel isn’t what was intended by the other person. One result of past rejections is that we become oversensitive. We see everything as a potential rejection and we react that way. We cause the suffering and hurt of other people because we’re looking at everything they say, and the way they say it through the filter of past rejections. I used to be exactly like that. I’ve been rejected in some very painful ways over the years, but I made a choice to look at the good things and not the painful ones.
None of us is alone in this world; all of us have suffered rejection. It’s just as painful for everyone else as it is for you. You have inflicted the same pain on someone else. We’ve all rejected someone to one degree or another.
People make mistakes, people say things, things happen – people have opinions just like you. It’s not always all about you.
God Hasn’t Rejected You
The suffering can cause one of two reactions in you. You can focus on the hurt and always look inward, or look at your feelings, only. If you do then nothing will ever change. You’ll always be sad and hurting.
Or, you can turn to God. This is apparently what Leah has done. She’s decided to turn to God to ease her suffering and He did. She began to praise God. Nothing had changed in her relationship with her husband, when she turned to God. Jacob still loved Rachel more, but God is where blessing comes from. It’s obvious that there was a great change in her attitude.
Over the years an interesting thing takes place in Jacob. Look at what happens at the end of his life:
Genesis 49:29-31 (NKJV)
49:29 Then he charged them and said to them: "I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite as a possession for a burial place. 31 There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife, there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife, and there I buried Leah.
He’s telling them that he’s going to be buried with Leah. She’s the one he buried with his ancestors. She’s the one accorded with that honor, not Rachel – The one he loved more. Rachel’s buried in
. He has chosen Leah. In the end, he came to love her. Bethlehem
I think Leah came to the realization that she couldn’t change Jacob. We always try to change other people. After all, they’re the ones who are wrong, right? We always think we’re right or we’re the one standing on the moral high ground.
I had a friend that once said, “I wouldn’t think it if it wasn’t right.” We always think we’re right – it’s human nature. I want to share a truth with you – You cannot change anyone else, you can only change yourself.
After a while, Leah didn’t try to change Jacob, she just changed her own way of thinking. Jacob came to love her for whom she became. The key to overcoming rejection is to change your focus. Focus on God and his blessings.