Genesis 29:14-20 (New Living Translation)
After Jacob had stayed with Laban for about a month, Laban said to him, “You shouldn’t work for me without pay just because we are relatives. Tell me how much your wages should be.” Now Laban had two daughters. The older daughter was named Leah, and the younger one was Rachel. There was no sparkle in Leah’s eyes, but Rachel had a beautiful figure and a lovely face. Since Jacob was in love with Rachel, he told her father, “I’ll work for you for seven years if you’ll give me Rachel, your younger daughter, as my wife.” Laban replied, “Agreed! I’d rather give her to you than to anyone else. Stay and work with me.” So Jacob worked seven years to pay for Rachel. But his love for her was so strong that it seemed to him but a few days.
There’s something about having a cold that makes me feel a bit whiny and peevish. But having had three colds in as many months, well, that makes me downright snarky. Luckily, I like that word a lot: snarky. Cantankerous, ornery, prickly, tetchy, grumpy. All good words, but, for me, snarky really hits the spot. It’s fun to say, too. Halfway between snarling and cranky.
We all feel snarky at some point in our lives. Perhaps, like me today, for a relatively lame reason like having a minor, temporary illness. Or perhaps you’ve felt snarky for a really, really good reason.
Leah had abundant excuse to feel snarky. As Laban’s eldest daughter, she was the most likely candidate to marry Jacob when he arrived on the scene. But Leah had a drop-dead gorgeous, younger sister named Rachel. And Jacob fell hard for her. After Jacob worked seven years to earn the right to marry Rachel, who did Laban put into Jacob’s bed? Leah! Can you imagine the scene when Jacob realized he’d been tricked? It could not have been pleasant for poor Leah. Then the disappointment she must have experienced when Jacob was not content to have her as his only wife, but instead agreed to work an additional seven years if he could also marry Rachel. Leah must have lived every day with the knowledge that she was the wife Jacob didn’t want, while Rachel was the woman he worked for fourteen long years to marry.
Leah gave birth to four sons in rapid succession. The first three, she named out of her sadness. Reuben, from the Hebrew r’u ben: “See, a son.” When Leah held her newborn baby, she proclaimed, “The Lord has noticed my misery, and now my husband will love me.” But Jacob did not. Next, Simeon arrived, from sham’a/shim’on, “has heard.” Leah sadly stated, “The Lord heard that I was unloved and has given me another son.” Still she did not get the love for which she hoped. Then Levi, the third son, was born, from yilaveh/levi, “will join.” Leah exclaimed, “Surely this time my husband will feel affection for me, since I have given him three sons!” But this was not to be.
My heart breaks for Leah. I wish that her path had been different, and that she had had a husband who adored her. She was trapped in a loveless marriage, with no way out. And so she turned to God. When her fourth son was born, she named him Judah: “Now I will praise the Lord!” I am deeply grateful to God that she was able to find hope and solace in the God who loved her without limits. It was this last son, born in praise and joy, who would become the ancestor of Jesus.
I pray that you would be surrounded by people who know your true worth and who show their love in wonderful ways. I pray that you would reach the goals you’ve set for yourself in life. I pray that you would walk always in health and joy. But the reality is that our lives will not always be perfect. Things will not always go according to our plans. Sometimes we’ll be frustrated or confused or unsure. In times like that, it is such a comfort to remember God’s never-ending love for us. “Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands” (Deuteronomy 7:9).
I think that’s a pretty good reason for being the opposite of snarky, eh?
On a scale of 1 to 10, what is your “snarkiness level” right now? When you find yourself feeling discouraged, annoyed, or frustrated, what do you do?
* Translations from Robert Alter’s commentary on Genesis