Who Will Be In Your Family Tree?

I’ve heard it said…you can pick your friends, you can even pick your nose, but you can’t pick your family. 

My mother loves genealogy and searching family lineage!  She has spent countless hours and days searching through records like a modern-day A&E detective, digging for proof to connect the dots on our family tree. She has even traced my husband’s family all the way back to England and King James…you know, the one that had the Bible translated to English in 1611…the KJV translation that most of us struggle to understand with all the thees and thous. 

Clearly my husband didn’t choose to be born into a royal family and we definitely haven’t seen any monetary benefits. As a matter of fact, most of the Willingham’s we know were simple hardworking farmers from the fertile Delta land of Mississippi. 

I’m sure King James had no idea that my husband would be in his family tree, I wonder if Leah had a clue that Jesus would be a descendant in her genealogy? 

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Sometimes a woman of faith can feel unloved by her husband.

“When the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb; but Rachel was barren” (Genesis 29:31). 

It is easy to hurt for Leah.  She had some pretty awful things happen to her, she was sold by her father to a man who thought he was getting her sister.  Her husband left her after just one week of marriage for her beautiful sister who he loved from first sight. 

But God blessed Leah.  She gave birth to half of Jacob’s twelve sons…the twelve sons that would become the twelve tribes of Israel.  The names she chose for her babies demonstrates for us her level of faith, trust and hope in God. 

Let’s take a closer look…

  • She named her firstborn Reuben (meaning ‘See, a Son’); for she said, ‘The LORD has surely looked on my affliction. Now therefore, my husband will love me’” (Genesis 29:32).
  • “Then she conceived again and bore a son, and said, ‘Because the LORD has heard that I am unloved, He has therefore given me this son also.’ And she called his name Simeon” (meaning “Heard,” Genesis 29:33). 
  • In verse 34, Leah “conceived again and bore a son, and said, ‘Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.’ Therefore his name was called Levi” (meaning “Attached”). Leah was hoping that by now, having three sons, Jacob would be even more attached to her. 
  • “And she conceived again and bore a son, and said,Now I will praise the LORD.’ Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she stopped bearing” (Genesis 29:35).

Leah’s attitude is evident in the names she chose for her baby boys. The first three she named in hopes that her husband would notice her…would value her and would eventually love her.  

By the time her fourth son was born, Leah has had a change of heart and was so joyful to God for this fourth son that she named him “Praise.”  Leah gave God the credit for her happiness and joy by praising the Lord. This tells us about the mental state of Leah at this time.  She has had a heart change.

It is through this fourth son, that she Praised God for… that the Savior of the world would come!    He wasn’t Jacob’s first-born son (that was Ruben). He wasn’t the son from whom all the Priest for Israel came (that was Levi).  He also wasn’t the one who killed an entire village to defend his sisters honor. (that was Simeon – we’ll look at this story next week) But he was the one whose mother Praised God for him and named her son accordingly. (Judah)

Judah is included in the family tree and genealogy of Matthew 1, listing the heritage of Jesus.  Our Lord came from Leah’s “Praise the Lord” son… from the tribe of Judah. 

For it is evident that our Lord descended from Judah.  Hebrews 7:14


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While we don’t get to pick our family, and we have no control over who is born generations after us in our family, we do see proof that God blesses those who bless Him 

We can be like Leah and praise God for His goodness even when things don’t look like we want them to.  

Our take away from Leah’s story is that when she changed her heart and began praising God, He blessed her.

Do you have an area of you life you can change your heart and begin Praising God? 


ALL THIS WEEK WE WILL BE LOOKING AT LEAH AS WE CONTINUE OUR “LEARNING FROM THEIR EXAMPLES” SERIES. 

MAKE US A PART OF YOUR DAILY DEVOTION AND FOLLOW BREATH ON PAPER

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Cindy Willingham is a landscape designer, small group leader, avid encourager, and sinner saved by grace who is nine years new to Birmingham, Alabama. Her sweet husband of 37 years, two married children and four grand-kiddos fill her life with unbelievable fun and sweet snuggles. She thinks God is awesome and that the best adventure starts with saying yes to that still, small voice. ~ Click here to read Cindy’s BoP Bio.

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