And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the LORD: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing.
Leah was in a less-than-ideal situation. Her husband loved his other wife more than her, and that other wife also happened to be her sister. Talk about an awkward family dynamic. But God was keeping His eye on Leah, and He gave her something that Rachel didn’t have—the ability to bear children. And she thought, perhaps, that the sons she bore for Jacob would make him love her. She thought that Reuben and Simeon and Levi might produce some affection from her husband, some emotional connection, some bond, whatever she felt was lacking in her relationship with him. But it didn’t seem to work out that way.
We might imagine what Leah was dealing with, how she might have struggled with low self-esteem or feeling alone and unwanted. Maybe she felt unfulfilled in her life, knowing that she would never be good enough no matter what she did. Maybe she felt inferior to Rachel and like an afterthought to Jacob. But over those years of struggling with these things, she also had her children. And by the time she has a fourth son, she is finally able to come to a place where she can recognize the blessings that God had given her. Now she can finally turn her eyes from Jacob and Rachel and even herself and look to God and praise Him for His goodness to her.
Sometimes it can take us a while to get to that place. Sometimes we carry those burdens and baggage and hurts with us for so long that it can take a while to wade through them all and come to an understanding that God was with us all along, that He has not forgotten us no matter how many others have, and He is good to us when others treat us poorly, and He is enough when no one else wants us. And Leah would have Judah, whose name means “praise,” for the rest of her days as a reminder of what’s truly important and where her value came from.
Maybe we can relate to Leah in some ways. Maybe we’ve had struggles or faced hard circumstances and keep hoping what we do can somehow improve that situation and it just never seems to get better. But even in those moments, let’s look up and remember that God remembers us. Let’s find those things in our hardships that we can praise Him for, and then we’ll be amazed at how many more things we’ll find to praise Him for when we start focusing on those things instead. Leah’s son of praise was the start of the kingly line that brought us Jesus Christ, and because of Him and what He’s done for us, we’ll never run out of reasons to praise the Lord.