Notice Leah’s Eyes, [Handicaps]

Portait of woman wearing scarf with eyes closed Stuck in the wonderful convolutions of scripture we can start a great study of Leah and her sister Rachel. These two daughters of Laban have become Jacob’s wives.

Now, we may question this polygamy when all we know is monogamy. These kind of decisions may be criticized and even outright challenged, but we will change nothing (and does it really matter)?

Jacob longs for Rachel. She is his “soul mate” and because he is so much in love, the customs and technicalities of the day somehow get by him. Because of this, he will have to take on Laban’s subtle trickery, where daughters get exchanged, and he must sort out who is who. Laban’s deception really creates a crisis. But it seems Jacob just rolls with it. I suppose deception has always been Jacob’s strong suit. (But when a deceiver gets deceived, that can’t be all bad, I suppose).

Jacob is so in love with Rachel that he works for seven years for the right to marry her. This may be a bit outrageous. But we really must weigh these issues. I believe Jacob really is a monogamist at heart (shh… don’t tell him). He can only see that one girl that he is crazy about, his true love, Rachel. But it’s Leah that I think about. Her own issues are unique. Genesis 29 explains it a bit cryptically,

“Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance.” 

Genesis 29:17

I must tell you that there is confusion by commentators about the “weak eyes.” Some take it literally (as in, she in very “near-sighted,”) others who look at the original Hebrew find the words to be a bit looser and vague. They think that this is a polite way of saying she really wasn’t pretty. IDK, but I think I can gain from either interpretation.

In the long view, Leah would birth four patriarchs for Israel. But she would struggle with jealousy over her younger sister’s beauty and favor. Her pain was real, and she would hurt deeply over this.

I think I may understand Leah. She is wounded, and life requires that she live as unwanted. She sticks out as a woman of tragedy and broken hopes and dreams. She will always live as a reject. At best, she will always be a distant second, and perhaps a bit scorned and neglected for this.

I so love Leah and I do understand her. Her life is a long tragedy and very full of sadness. For the next 30-40 years she will always be a cast-off, someone who has been broken on life’s hard wheel. I look at her with a painful bit of understanding. She reminds me of being a struggler and a survivor. Her sad life is comparable to us who have to fight so hard over our own illness or handicap.

I suppose its “Leah’s eyes” that catch me. I have no idea what the issue was. But I know that she was weak, and challenged by this terrible weakness. I understand this. My own life has been “topsy-turvy” and a really hard struggle. Somehow it seems we must work through way too much. It doesn’t seem fair. But than again, we are the ones who must drink our adversity straight; and the ones who get to know special comfort.

For those of you who are confined to a ‘chair,’ and the others who must deal with mental illness. Leah should be our hero.

Those who have been betrayed by addiction, or who have felt rejected through a bitter divorce. Leah speaks to us. For she is for every loser and for failures of all stripes. But through all of our “set-backs” and messes, we must realize that God does love us– even as we weep.

We may have “Leah’s eyes,” but we also have His grace.

One more thought that might be relevant:

“When you encounter difficulties and contradictions, do not try to break them, but bend them with gentleness and time.”

–Francis de Sales

 

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Led Aside by Jesus, [Consideration]

“He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”

–Mark 8:23, NIV

Here I can imagine the gentleness and the kindness of Jesus–we see Him leading this man out of town to a quieter place. Showmanship?  Not on your life.  Jesus has made the decision to avoid the theatrics of a blind man given sight, and ducked the paparazzi for a moment to touch this man.

In a way, we are all like this blind man.  We stumble around and try to make our way.  But it is raucous confusion– the fields of philosophy, religion, psychology, politics and art are not much more than a blind men tapping with his cane, trying to find their way into the light.  This may be rather simplistic, but I believe it’s more true then we care to admit.  The entire social history of humans is based on confusion and conflict.

We grope in the gloom, and there is none to take our hand and lead us out of the darkness.  We stumble and fall, and come no closer to understanding then when we first started.  It is hopeless.  Our striving borders on madness and insanity.

The blind man in Mark 8 entrusted himself to Jesus’ care.  He willingly went with Jesus, following down the path and out of the village.  Jesus carefully leads him by the hand, which is quite remarkable.  (I guess I’m envious.)  Jesus would have led this man past every obstacle.

Each of us have to encounter Jesus for ourselves.

We are born blind, having no awareness (zero, zilch, nada) of spiritual truth.  We must be taught to see.  At the airport in Salt Lake City recently, I saw a young blind man being led through large crowd.  I was fascinated by his trust in his guide as people jostled to try to make their connections.  There was a quiet composure in him.  (In his place, I would be terrified.)

We must trust Jesus, with that same composure and grace.  When we cannot see, we must trust.

“I do not try to see my way,
Before, behind, or left, or right;
I cannot tell what dangers gray
Do haunt my steps, nor at what height
Above the sea my path doth wind:
For I am blind. 

“Yet not without a guide I wend
My unseen way, by day, by night;
Close by my side there walks a Friend,——
Strong, tender, true: I trust His sight;
He sees my way before, behind,
Though I am blind.”

by an Unknown Author

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The Gift of Sight, [Our Blindness]

“Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. Then, spitting on the man’s eyes, he laid his hands on him and asked, “Can you see anything now?”

Mark 8:23

What an amazing and gentle thing for Jesus to do.  He offers his hand in order to guide this one to a better environment for that which he is about to do.  Jesus really is quite considerate, and very aware of the “circus” he causes in the town.

In many ways, we are so like this blind man.  We have no spiritual sight, we stumble and bumble through life.  We are doomed to live this way, blind to anything of significance.  But along comes Jesus, he takes us by our hand.  We walk through the streets, with him leading us.  Little do we know, that in just a moment we are going to see.

This blind man is being led by a stranger, who is leading him down dusty streets to an undisclosed location.  Yet, for some reason, he trusts Jesus, and allows himself to be led.  As he walked holding the hand of Jesus, his faith grows.  By the time they arrive at the spot outside the walls, we just know what is going to happen next.

Jesus spits!  Right into each eye. He puts his thumbs into them and brings a complete reconstruction of each eye.  Jesus is standing right in front of him. He asks, “Now can you see?”  I can see him blinking, and rolling his eyes, squinting and trying very hard to see.  And he does– but only limitedly.  Things are still blurry.

Jesus doesn’t berate the man, or belittle him for not getting a complete healing.  He just repeats this process, and within a minute the blind man now sees the world that before he only staggered through a moment ago..

If you must know, I am that blind man, I walked in spiritual darkness.  Things have not ever been easy.  I have stumbled and tripped through life.  I have been the butt of schoolboy pranks, and I have begged for crusts.  I have gone hungry a lot of the time.

But this man, Jesus found me.  He healed me. And my ugly, pathetic life was changed.  I am now a witness to what he can do–and does!  I added nothing to my healing, it was a miracle. I just opened my eyes.

“Of all the senses, sight must be the most delightful.”

–Helen Keller

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