I've been trying to work through the Old Testament lately; right now I'm in Leviticus, and it's a little slow going, much thanks to the chapters and chapters and chapters about every single detail of the tabernacle (down to the number of loops in the curtains!) as well as every single detail of every type of sacrifice. The Lord instructed Moses with a incredible level of specificity, and it makes me wonder if it's the same way today when we build temples.
This time as I read the biblical tale, I was struck by the undercurrent of Leah - she was the older daughter, with "tender eyes," but Rachel was described as "beautiful and well favored." She probably lived in the shadow of her favored younger sister, which would have been difficult. On top of that, she was given to her younger sister's suitor as a first wife, when he clearly didn't want her (if my dad tried to give me to one of Jessi's boyfriends, I'd probably run away... no offense, boys). The Lord sees that Leah is "hated," and he allows her to have children while Rachel is barren.
The Lord saw the heart of Leah and knew her sorrow, and knew how difficult it was for her to be hated as the unwanted first wife, so he blessed her with children; she recognized the fact that the Lord was blessing her, because every time she had a child, she blessed God and bore witness that God saw her afflictions and blessed her because of them. Later, "God remembered Rachel," and allowed her to bear children, but Leah's sons were the larger part of Jacob's seed.
I think this is a beautiful story. The average reader might pass over Leah, but the Lord was always mindful of her sorrow, and though he may have blessed Rachel with beauty and favor, he blessed Leah with more children, and with the knowledge that he loved her and would comfort her in her difficulties. Leah could have been bitter, but she appears to have accepted her trials and moved beyond her sorrow to gratitude for the Lord's blessings. I think everyone should take a leaf out of Leah's book (including me), and express gratitude for the blessings we have in spite of problems that may exist in our lives.