“32 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.’” NIV

‘’It is because the LORD has seem my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.’’

Thinking and writing about Leah yesterday, and her understandable sadness about coming second in her husband’s affections (and possibly a very poor second at that), coincided with something I read in a book by Henri Nouwen:

‘…very few people know that they are loved without any conditions or limits. This unconditional and unlimited love is what the evangelist John calls God’s first love. ‘’Let us love,’’ he says, ‘’because God loved us first’’ (1 John 4:19). The love that often leaves us doubtful, frustrated, angry, and resentful is the second love, that is to say, the affirmation, affection, sympathy, encouragement, and support that we receive from our parents, teachers, spouses and friends. We all know how limited, broken, and very fragile that love is. Behind the many expressions of this second love there is always the chance of rejection, withdrawal, punishment, blackmail, violence, and even hatred. Many contemporary movies and plays portray the ambiguities and ambivalences of human relationships, and there are no friendships, marriages, or communities in which the strains and stresses of second love are not keenly felt. Often it seems that beneath the pleasantries of daily life there are many gaping wounds that carry such names as: abandonment, betrayal, rejection, rupture, and loss. These are all the shadow side of the second love and reveal the darkness that never completely leaves the human heart.’ (‘In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership’, pp.25,26)

In this book Nouwen argues that the Christian leader of the future must be anchored in the knowledge of God’s first love. Their identity must be deeply rooted in God’s first love,

This, of course, applies to every Christian. Like Jesus Himself, we must be sure of who we are as beloved children of God (Luke 3:22). Yes, we may be tempted at times to doubt this (see Luke 4:3/9: ‘’If you are the Son of God…’’). But what we all need, leaders and led alike, is to be so aware that we are loved by God that our essential security in Him is unshaken, no matter what anyone else may say or do. This will not mean that we vwill go unscarred by the bad behaviour of others, but we need not be defined by it. When we know we are deeply and unconditionally loved by God, we don’t need anyone else’s approval.

But we must learn to root our lives deeply in His love.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord that my worth is not dependent upon the value-judgments of others. I am of great value because of who I am in your eyes. O Lord, I admit it’s often a struggle to see and feel this. So please help me in my weakness and need.