Thankfully, God’s Love Never Runs Out!

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

I’ll bet you could write your own psalm of gratitude. In fact, that might be a good assignment for you on this Thanksgiving Day. Write an “O give thanks to the Lord for he is good” psalm, and then, like the psalmist suggested, go tell the world of how grateful you are. Or, better yet, just start with the people at the holiday meal today. Write your psalm and share it with your spouse, your family, and your friends. It will do you, and them, a world of good.

Going Deep // Focus: Psalm 107:1-2

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say this!

If you are sharing a Thanksgiving meal with loved ones today, there is a chance that something will run out: the gravy, the stuffing, or the pumpkin pie. Thankfully, there is something that will never run out that will be present at your celebration: God’s love for you!

I like the way The Message version renders the psalmist’s call to gratitude: “Oh, thank God—he’s so good! His love never runs out. All of you set free by God, tell the world!”

It is true—and it is more than just christianese: God is good—all the time! That is the testimony of my life—and I have a feeling it is true of your life as well. Certainly, I ought to be proclaiming God’s goodness to anyone who will listen, and even to those who won’t, much more than I do. Add to that the fact that I am, on my best day, not so good, and on my worst day, frankly, pretty bad, only adds to the brilliance of God’s overwhelming goodness.

The New King James translation of the psalmist’s words are even more meaningful to me: “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” Mercy—I can really relate to that. Now don’t misunderstand what I’m saying: I’ll take either enduring love or enduring mercy—I can’t live without either one. Love and mercy are simply different facets of the same diamond we understand as the goodness of God.

But God’s mercy really speaks to me, and I’ll bet if you thought about, it, you would say the same. Someone said that mercy is not getting what you deserve. The truth is, you and I depend upon God’s mercy every single moment just to draw in the next breath, since the holy and righteous God has had every reason and right to annihilate us from the planet because of our sinfulness. Jeremiah said it well in Lamentations 3:22-23,

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

The entirety of Psalm 107 is simply giving one example after another of how God in his faithful love and enduring mercy has freed his people from what they deserve. And at the end of each example, the psalmist expresses the call to gratitude:

Oh, thank God, he is so good! His love never runs out!

I’ll bet you could write your own Psalm 107. In fact, that might be a good assignment for you on this Thanksgiving Day. And then, like the psalmist suggested, we should go tell the world. Now that’s a pretty tall order, so how about starting with the people with whom you will enjoy the holiday meal today? Write your psalm and share it with your spouse, your family, and your friends.

I am not sure how they will feel about it, but you will certainly feel pretty good. That’s what heartfelt gratitude to God for his faithful love and enduring mercy does.

Going Deeper With God: Write your own Psalm 107—a psalm of gratitude—on this Thanksgiving Day. And then, like the psalmist suggested, go tell the world of how thankful you are. Or, you could start with the people at the holiday meal today. Write your psalm and share it with your spouse, your family, and your friends. It will do you a world of good.

God’s Work—Our Work

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

Our work matters to God, because it reflects his DNA. God is a working God and creative God. We ought therefore to work as if we were to be saved by our works; and so rely on Jesus, as if we did no works.

Going Deep // Focus: Exodus 39:42-43

So the people of Israel followed all of the Lord’s instructions to Moses. Then Moses inspected all their work. When he found it had been done just as the Lord had commanded him, he blessed them.

Thank God for work!  No—really!

When we first meet God in the Bible, he is a creating, working God. In fact, we first learn of God that he is the Creator. He takes nothing and makes it something, turning the mess into his masterpiece. Often in the creation account, we find that when God has finished a certain aspect of his work, he looked it over and upon examination, exclaimed, “that’s good.”

When God created the human couple, he declared that his work as Creator was done, and that it, too was good. In fact, he declared it to be his most impressive work: “Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!” But he didn’t stop either his work or his creativity; he simply assigned it to Adam and Eve. In Genesis 1:28, God says to the couple, “Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” In other words, now you take what I’ve done to the next level. Creatively work it so that it brings honor to me.

All that to say, in our passage today, we find a parallel to the creation account in Genesis: “Moses saw that the people had done, that they had done it just as the Lord had commanded, and his summation was that it was good. How do we know that? We see that in response to their creative work, “Moses blessed them. On God’s behalf, Moses is looking it over, then saying, “it is so good.”

Among the many things that could be said in commentary on the construction of the tabernacle, one of the things we can draw from this is a theology of work. Work is what God does, and being made in his image, being assigned responsibilities of co-rulership with him, work is what he has called us to do. Work is not a necessary evil, it is at the heart of our God-infused DNA. Furthermore, we have his creativity in our DNA as well, so our work is to be done in a way that creates beauty and value, bringing honor and glory to the Creator. That is why, over in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul exhorts the Colossians believers,

And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly. Children, always obey your parents, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged. Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord. Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. (Colossians 3:17-24)

So whether it is managing creation on God’s behalf in Genesis, or doing God’s work in constructing a beautiful tabernacle in Exodus, or giving effort in whatever our daily life brings to us, in marriage, our family, or on the job either as an employee or an employer, God has ordained our work. So therefore,

  1. Our work is to do God’s work. In fact whatever we do is God’s work.
  2. In our work we are actually managing God’s creation for him, no matter what it is we have been assigned to do.
  3. When we do our work as God’s work, and we carry out our work in God’s way, we will never lack God’s favor and God’s provision. Like Moses did with the tabernacle workers, God will review it and reward it.

And as we approach our work in that way, whatever we do, big or small, glorious or common, we will find great joy and eternal significance in knowing we have done it as service unto the Lord Christ.

Going Deeper With God: Reevaluate your work: What you are doing is God-ordained and is an opportunity to be God-honoring. It is an opportunity for you to manage the part of creation assigned to you—at least for the time being—to add value and beauty to it, and to please the true Boss of your work.

Practicing The Presence of God

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

God wants his people to see, feel and know his presence at all time. The truth is, whatever you are doing in this world, whether you are working with your mind or voice or hands; with your time or energy or money, whether you are sleeping, eating, thinking, working, you are in the presence of a watching, loving, caring, involved God. Practicing the presence of God will keep you aware of that.

Going Deep // Focus: Exodus 27:20-21

Command the people of Israel to bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to keep the lamps burning continually. The lampstand will stand in the Tabernacle, in front of the inner curtain that shields the Ark of the Covenant. Aaron and his sons must keep the lamps burning in the Lord’s presence all night. This is a permanent law for the people of Israel, and it must be observed from generation to generation.

The lamp of the Lord’s presence was to be kept burning so that the darkness never extinguished it—and this was to be done perpetually, from generation to generation. God wanted his people to see, feel and know his presence at all times. The perpetually burning lamp was one of the ways they would be reminded of this unparalleled truth that God was always with them. It would help them to practice the presence of God.

God wants that for you, too. Whatever you are doing in this world, whether you are working with your mind or voice or hands; with your time or energy or money, whether you are sleeping, eating, thinking, working, you are in the presence of a watching, loving, caring, involved God. Practicing the presence of God will keep you aware of that.

So learn to practice the presence of God, as Brother Lawrence did, a humble cook who communed with God in his ordinary, everyday tasks. He learned the art of living in the presence of God throughout the day.

His name was Nicholas Herman, born to peasant parents in Lorraine, France. Later, he entered the Discalced Carmelite monastery in Paris as Brother Lawrence. He was assigned to the monastery kitchen where, amidst the tedious chores of cooking and cleaning at the constant bidding of his superiors, he developed his rule of spirituality and work. In his Maxims, Lawrence writes, “Men invent means and methods of coming at God’s love, they learn rules and set up devices to remind them of that love, and it seems like a world of trouble to bring oneself into the consciousness of God’s presence. Yet it might be so simple. Is it not quicker and easier just to do our common business wholly for the love of him?”

For Brother Lawrence, “common business,” no matter how mundane or routine, was the medium of God’s love. The issue was not the sacredness or worldly status of the task but the motivation behind it. “Nor is it needful that we should have great things to do. . . We can do little things for God; I turn the cake that is frying on the pan for love of him, and that done, if there is nothing else to call me, I prostrate myself in worship before him, who has given me grace to work; afterwards I rise happier than a king. It is enough for me to pick up but a straw from the ground for the love of God.”

Brother Lawrence retreated to a place in his heart where the love of God made every detail of his life of surpassing value. “I began to live as if there were no one save God and me in the world.” Together, God and Brother Lawrence cooked meals, ran errands, scrubbed pots, and endured the scorn of the world.” (Christianity Today: Christian History—Brother Lawrence.

And Brother Lawrence, this humble kitchen helper, became one of the most influential Christians to ever live. I love what Lawrence said:

I am doing now what I will do for all eternity. I am blessing God, praising Him, adoring him, and loving Him with all my heart [in what I am doing].

Lawrence kept the lampstand of the Lord’s presence burning in his life by practicing the presence of God at all times in everything he did. If a poor, uneducated, unskilled kitchen aide can do it, so can you!

Going Deeper With God: Whatever you are doing today, literally invite God into it. Keep the lampstand of his presence burning throughout the day…then do it again tomorrow.

Never Late—Always On Time

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

When the Sovereign Lord, whom the Bible says has ordered everyone of your days, even before one of them came into existence, saw fit to allow unpleasant people or undesirable circumstances to be a part of your life, he had you, a very special and potentially patient, trusting, expectant person in mind.

Going Deep // Focus: Genesis 41:1,14-15

Another two full years passed while Joseph languished in prison, then Pharaoh has a dream. … Pharaoh sent for Joseph at once, and he was quickly brought from the prison. After he shaved and changed his clothes, he went in and stood before Pharaoh. Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream last night, and no one here can tell me what it means. But I have heard that when you hear about a dream you can interpret it.”

Another two years passed. Joseph had already been in prison for years—due to no fault of his own. Now there had come a glimmer of hope in Genesis 39 when he had accurately interpreted the dreams of two fellow prisoners—officials of Pharaoh—that they would be released. His only request was that they would remember him when there were out, and speak kindly of him so that he too, could be released. They didn’t. They promptly forgot.

And it would seem, behind their forgetfulness was the forgetfulness of God. Why would God allow this righteous man to languish for another two years in a fetid Egyptian prison. Why?

Why—that is the question we all have at some point in our walk of faith. And since an adequate answer to that question is likely to escape our finite understanding, it is important that we grow in patience, trust and expectancy as we await the fulfillment of God’s plan for our lives. We know that, of course, but it is much easier said than done. Nevertheless, let me remind us again today of why you and I must develop these virtues in our faith journey.

James, the first leader of the church, wrote, “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)

Whatever is lacking in your life right now, patience, along with trust and expectancy, is what will bring it to you!

The nineteenth century preacher A. B. Simpson said it this way: “Beloved, have you ever thought that someday you will not have anything to try you, or anyone to vex you again? There will be no opportunity in heaven to learn or to show the spirit of patience…If you are to practice these things, it must be now.”

M. H. Lount wrote, “best gifts come slowly…growth and strength in waiting are results often greater than the end so impatiently longed for.”

God’s first concern for our lives is our growth, not our gratification. That’s why he often withholds what we would prefer and allows us to experience a long-term difficulty until we have learned to fully trust him. Again, that requires an industrial strength patience.

It is said that Joseph Hayden wrote a musical piece in which the flute player did not play a note until the 75th measure. And then, that flute player had only one note to play. On that 75th measure, on the up-beat, the flute player was to play that one and only note. And that was it. One of the flute players in the Boston Symphony said , “When Hayden wrote that musical piece, he had a very special, patient person in mind.”

When the Sovereign Lord, whom the Bible says has ordered everyone of your days, even before one of them came into existence, saw fit to allow unpleasant people or undesirable circumstances to be a part of your life, he had you, a very special and potentially patient, trusting, expectant person in mind.

That is the process by which God shapes your life. So how can you learn to work with God in a way that allows him to transform you into an instrument of usefulness? Let me suggest three things:

Prayer: Begin the process of growing in patience by simply asking God for it. God, the core of whose very character is patience, is the source of it. In James 1:2-3 we’re taught that the end result of the patience process is wisdom. And what does James say about wisdom? That if any of us lacks it we should ask God for it because he will give it generously.

So if he will supply the wisdom generously, we can back up in the process to ask for the patience as well, and expect to receive it. We simply and boldly need to ask for patience.

Evaluate: What are the areas where you tend to be most impatient. Perhaps it happens to be with how you respond to your family or maybe the people you work with would say you’re a short-tempered person. Maybe you are not considering the trials in your life with pure joy; you are not giving perseverance a chance to develop character; you are not appreciating that character tempered by patience is what produces Biblical hope in you. Or maybe you are impatient with God’s timing in your life.

Identify your top two or three areas of impatience, and then get some help with them. Enter into accountability with someone who will hold your feet to the fire in terms of your behavior, who will give you the words of encouragement needed to stay patient, and will faithfully pray for you as you go through the process.

Reflection: Practice the discipline of remembering and reflecting when you are tempted to be impatient. When you are about to fly off the handle remember how patient and long-suffering God has been with you. Make a study of and memorize as many of the verses on impatience and anger as you can, like Proverbs 29:11, “A stupid man gives free reign to his anger, but a wise man waits and lets it grow cool.” Soak in God’s truth until it gets into the very fabric of your being.

When you are getting weary of waiting, reflect on the purpose of God in your circumstance: that he is bringing you to maturity, and the vehicle that will get you there is patience. Reflect on Romans 5:3-5 which says, “Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us.”

Give intentional effort to the practice of patience. If you will, you will grow in trust of God. And when you have developed trust, you will ultimately experience the redeemed realization of all that you expect.

Going Deeper With God: Patience…trust…expectation. Reframe your thinking and start thanking God for every opportunity to exhibit this eternal qualities.

Sexual Purity, Moral Failure and God’s Grace

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

There is grace and forgiveness and mercy and love to cover any sexual sin you have experienced. Jesus’ continual response to the sexually broken is proof of that.

Going Deep // Focus: Genesis 39:6-8

Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he refused!

A while back a Newsweek article began with this attention-grabber: “In the [near future] you’re going to have better sex than you’ve ever had before…[not] a single sexual fantasy…will go unfulfilled.” Now that really grabbed my attention—not so much for my sake, but I knew you’d be interested!

All kidding aside, you and I would both agree that we live in a sex-obsessed culture. We are constantly bombarded with messages, images, and opportunities that urge us to gratify every sexual desire. On prime time TV in a given year, you’ll watch 20,000 sexually suggestive scenes—20,000!

As a result of this relentless sexual bombardment and a cultural philosophy of boundary-less sexual gratification, we now have more abortions (around fifty million since Roe v. Wade in 1973), out-of-wedlock births, cohabitation of couples without marriage, adulterous affairs, addiction to pornography, sexual predators and sexual exploitation than ever before. Nine million Americans carry an STD—that’s even more than those who battle alcoholism. It’s predicted that 100 million will die from HIV/AIDS in Africa alone in the next 20 years—100 million! At best, the world’s sexual philosophy doesn’t work—obviously! At worst, our so-called enlightened age, rather than giving us that sexual freedom it promised, has enslaved us to sexual degradation, relational dysfunction and moral destruction.

God has a better way—a higher sexual ethic to which he calls his children. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 says, “God wants you to be pure and to keep clear of all sexual sin. For God hasn’t called us to be dirty-minded and full of lust but to be holy and clean.”

Now God’s people haven’t always got this right, but there was one man who did—Joseph. Under the most intense pressure and rationale to compromise sexually, he didn’t. He remained pure in a polluted environment. Notice the rich theology in Joseph’s response to being seduced by Potiphar’s wife:

With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God? (Genesis 39:8-9)

When you look at Joseph’s response to this woman, it is obvious that he had thought this through ahead of the temptation and had resolved long before the seduction to stay sexually pure. Here’s the thing: If you wait until the moment of intense passion to decide what your values and boundaries are going to be, you’ve waited too long. Authors Young and Adams write:

Nothing interferes with logic and common sense more than the sex drive. For years we referred to this as the ‘brain relocation phenomenon,’ which occurs when you are passionate about someone and you start to get intimate. Here’s how it works. Once the hormones kick in, the brain dislodges from the skull and slowly moves down the body through the neck, shoulders, chest, stomach, and finally, below the waist. This process takes 10 to 20 minutes for women and about 3 seconds for men.

And once that happens, you are thinking with your hormones, not your head! The truth is, you are a free moral agent, created by God with a will. And you must resolve ahead of time to honor God with your sexuality, including not only sexual intercourse, but all the behaviors that contribute and lead to the point of no return. How can you do that?

First, resolve to make God’s standards your standards! Psalm 119:9 says, “How can one keep his way pure? By living according to your Word.”

Second, resolve to manage your mind, especially your media intake! Proverbs 15:14 says, “The fool feeds on trash.” What you feed your mind is just as important as what you feed your body. Every temptation starts in the mind. Proverbs 4:23 says “Be careful how you think, your life is shaped by your thoughts.” The battle for purity is won or lost in your brain.

Third, resolve to magnify the consequences of sin! Do a cost-benefit analysis of sexual sin! Proverbs 6:26 says, “Immorality may cost your life.” Proverbs 6:32 says, “Anyone who commits adultery doesn’t have any sense. He’s destroying himself.” Even if you don’t want to take God’s word for it, just look at the steady stream of recent studies on the results of the so-called sexual revolution. For instance, one study noted that when couples live together before marriage, there is an 80% higher likelihood of divorce than couples who don’t. Women in these relationships are twice as likely to be physically abused and four times more likely to experience depression than married women. And that is just one of many studies similarly confirming the unintended consequence of boundary-less sex. When you put the world’s sexual philosophy under the magnifying glass, who in their right mind would want that?

Perhaps by now you are saying, “Enough already, I’m convinced. God’s got a better way. But what do you do when you’ve already blown it sexually?” Well, here is what you need to know: There is grace and forgiveness and mercy and love to cover any sexual sin you have experienced. Have you ever noticed that some of the people most attracted to Jesus were those who had failed miserably in the sexual department: The woman who’d been married to five different husbands, and was currently living with a guy…a woman caught in adultery…prostitutes who’d sold their bodies for money.

And how would Jesus respond to them? He would look them straight in the eye and just love them. And he will gladly forgive you where you have messed up and heal you where you’ve been damaged and give you strength where you want to resolve to live a new kind of life. That is just what Jesus does!

If you have messed up sexually, God has a great gift for you: Forgiveness.

Going Deeper With God: Offer yourself to God—body and mind—in moral purity! Then do your part to make that so, but don’t forget to expect his help.

Reconciled Relationships: Seeing the Smile of God

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

God made us to live in reconciled relationships, first with him and then with each other. When we are at peace in our relational world, it is like being ever before the face of God. When a broken relationship has been restored, it is a gift of God’s grace that no other gift in the world can match. Thank God for reconciled relationships!

Going Deep // Focus: Genesis 33: 24-25, 10-11

But Jacob insisted, “No, if I have found favor with you, please accept this gift from me. And what a relief to see your friendly smile. It is like seeing the face of God! Please take this gift I have brought you, for God has been very gracious to me. I have more than enough.” And because Jacob insisted, Esau finally accepted the gift.

God made us to live in reconciled relationships, first with him and then with each other. When we are at peace in our relational world, it is like being ever before the face of God. When a broken relationship has been restored, it is a gift of God’s grace that no other gift in the world can match.

Thank God for reconciled relationships!

Unfortunately, sin leads us to deceive one another, or dominate, or even destroy our most priceless treasures—people we love. And once sin sets in, distance is caused between two who were once close. Ultimately, division is created, feelings are wounded and covenants are fractured. Though we might be able to explain the causes and justify the results, disunity is a result of sin, and the divide that is created between two human beings is the Enemy’s stock-in-trade.

Yet God has provided a path for the mending of broken covenants, and the stepping stones on the path are repentance, forgiveness, restitution, reconciliation and restoration. Each of those steps can be seen in Jacob’s outreach to his brother, Esau.

Esau had been the wounded party; Jacob the perpetrator. Thankfully, Jacob took the initiative. In his wrestling match with God in the previous chapter, God had dealt with his deceptive ways, and Jacob repented. He then sought forgiveness from his brother, humbling himself in Esau’s presence. (Genesis 33:3) He even took it a step further by offering restitution, thus the gifts. (Genesis 33:8) Jacob’s act of contrition and Esau’s willingness to accept it led to reconciliation between the two, and ultimately to a restored relationship in the house of Isaac. (Genesis 33:4)

And what a beautiful story this is, one that has the smile of God plastered all over it.

Does reconciliation always happen when outreach is made? Not always. Sometimes the hurt is deep and time is needed. Sometimes the offender has not humbled himself enough to repair the breach. And often the wounded party, who in reality, has to pay the real cost of reconciliation—forgiveness—is simply not ready and willing to bear that price. Never the less, if there is fracture in your relational world, perhaps this story is a reminder to do what you must to reconcile.

If you were the offender, or even the offended, reach out and do what you can. Who knows what will happen, because the other person’s response is an unavoidable part of the equation. But the risk will be worth the reward, for the possibility of seeing the smile of God in the relationship is the best gift ever.

And even if restoration waits for a later day, the smile of God will be within your heart for giving every effort to attain unity with the offended party.

Going Deep With God: If you have offended someone, remember, rarely is merely saying “sorry” going to be enough, especially if the offense is deep. Keep in mind that God has established a process, so don’t neglect to follow it step by step: repentance, forgiveness and restitution, then hopefully reconciliation and full restoration.

For Every Leah

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

You are worthy to be loved, accepted and valued simply because God created you perfectly you. Even if others don’t recognized that, never forget that God sees you as something special.

Going Deep // Focus: Genesis 29:16, 30-32

Now Laban had two daughters [that Jacob married]; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel… Jacob’s love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah… When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”

You are worthy to be loved, accepted and valued simply because God created you perfectly you. Even if others don’t recognize that, never forget that God sees you as something special.

Unfortunately in our world, we typically assign loveliness by arbitrary, unfair and constantly shifting standards of physical attractiveness, and in so doing we set the stage for untold misery for those who don’t measure up.

In this story in Genesis 29, Jacob desires to marry the beautiful Rachel, but is duped into marrying her not-so-attractive older sister Leah. (Genesis 29:16-23) Unfortunately for Leah, she wasn’t Jacob’s type. Genesis 29:17 tells us that, “Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful.” In the Hebrew, that’s a polite way of saying Leah was ugly. Likely that is not news to her. She is fully aware of how people perceived her, and to add insult to injury, her little sister, Rachel, is absolutely beautiful.

Imagine the comparisons Leah lived her entire life—sometimes openly, sometimes in the not-so-subtle whispers and stares of others, including her family. Every day Leah faced the pain of rejection that not having the right looks brings, because in truth, she—and other every woman—wants to be told she is beautiful and desirable.

Picture her fear going to bed with Jacob that night, knowing that the truth will be exposed in the first light of day. She will wake up yet again unwanted, unnoticed, unloved—again coming in second—because, as C.S. Lewis wrote, “in the morning it’s always Leah.”

Imagine that sinking feeling when she hears her new husband yelling at her father for foisting on him the ugly one—the one he didn’t want. And in her mind, her worthlessness is once again validated that the only way she will find love and get married is through pretense or a payoff.

But by hook or by crook she has gained a husband, and now she must command his affection. So in vain, Leah begins a whole new attempt to capture Jacob’s heart—bearing babies. In Genesis 29:31-30:24, we become witness to a baby race: over the next 20 years, these two wives and their two concubines try to outdo each other to get the upper hand with Jacob by bearing 12 sons.

But for Leah, no matter how many babies are born, nothing changes—still no flowers, no candy, and no affection. With each new child, “in the morning, it’s still Leah.” Notice Leah’s diminishing expectations with each successive birth. In 29:32, when Reuben was born, there are still high hopes, “Now my husband will love me.” Thinking she can lure Jacob’s love, she names the baby Rueben, which means “a son.” After all, what husband wouldn’t love a wife who could give him a son? But those longings for a sizzling, romantic relationship become simply a fleeting hope for some expression of affection in Genesis 29:34 when her third son, Levi, is born: “This time my husband will become attached [attracted] to me.” Finally, many years later, in Genesis 30:20, when she bears her sixth and last son, Zebulun, Leah says, “Now will my husband dwell with me because I have given him six sons” By this time, she’d be satisfied with just a token—that Jacob would just spend more time with her.

Understandably, she’s looking to Jacob to meet a need that God had planted in her heart by design. But because of sin, the sad fact is, no other person will ever fully meet that need. Jacob can’t for Leah, and no one—husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend will do it for you. It is only when we allow God to fill us that our deepest longing for belonging will be met.

Leah began to get that along the way. When Judah was born in Genesis 29:35, she says, “Now will I praise the Lord.” The sad reality was, this relationship between Leah and Jacob never sizzled. But something did begin to happen in Leah’s character to win Jacob over. As you get to the end of this saga in Genesis 49:29-31, we find Jacob is an old widower. He has outlived both Leah and Rachel. His last recorded request is to be buried next to Leah. At death, Jacob made his last pledge of love to weak-eyed Leah, not the beautiful Rachel. In the end, it was Leah’s character, not her curves that won Jacob’s respect—and his heart.

The truth is, most likely we will never change the way sin-tainted people assign value to us. In the eyes of some, worth may continue to evade us. No matter what, “in the morning we will still be Leah.” But when we make God our primary source for love, acceptance and affection, he has a way of satisfying those deep longings.

While cultural standards of worth apart from Christ continually change—God’s standards don’t. He always finds you worthy of his love. So while human love and value are wonderful, make God your first and primary source for significance. If you are looking to find fulfillment in another person, every relationship will be a desperate, never-ending search for another to complete you. Only God should occupy that role—and only he can meet that need!

God loves you! So much so he sent his Son to die to redeem you and you are his forever. Now that must mean you are something incredibly special. Never forget that.

Going Deep With God: Take some time today to just soak in God’s love for you. I am not sure how you can do that, but in your own way, give him a chance to reveal just how special you are to him.