My wife and I read from the Bible together each night. We are currently in Genesis. Last night we finished Genesis 29, where in the first part Jacob marries both Leah and Rachel, and in the second part Leah has children.
We also read from the Bible with our daughter each night. We are currently reading to her from the Gospel Story Bible and it happened that last night we read versions of the same story in each Bible.
To sum up the story, if you are unfamiliar, Jacob has traveled to his ancestral land to seek a wife. He works for his uncle and has agreed to work for seven years in order to have the right to marry the uncle's younger daughter, Rachel. On the wedding night he finds he has been tricked by his uncle and has married the older daughter, Leah. In return for promising an additional seven years he is allowed to also marry Rachel.
Jacob clearly loves Rachel, but Leah...not so much. We aren't told much about Leah's feelings in all of this but do know that Leah desires for her husband to love her and she believes that by providing him with children that this will happen.
So Leah has children. One son, Reuben. Another son, Simeon. Another son, Levi. In each of these cases she gives her son a name that shows her desire to be loved by her husband. But apparently to no avail.
Then she has a fourth son. And in her choosing of a name for the child we see that something has changed for Leah. She doesn't seek the love of her husband, but seeks God, saying:
"This time I will praise the Lord."
The circumstances of Leah's marriage don't appear to have changed but a change has been worked in the orientation of Leah's heart. As we read those words last night I was reminded that in all of the circumstances of life we are called to praise the Lord.
It is easy to praise the Lord when things are going well. But when things aren't going well the only thing that changed is our particular set of circumstances. The things of the Lord, such as his majesty, his power, his beauty, his perfect love...none of that has changed in the least.
I currently serve as the pastor of a mission church on a Native American reservation and every day our eyes are opened to the needs of those around us. The physical, emotional and spiritual needs. I am also a father, a husband. And a sinner.
And in whichever role I happen to fill at the moment, each time I turn to the Lord in prayer I want to begin where Leah's comment points me, to the praise of the Lord.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.