The Greatest Love of All

This month we celebrate Valentine’s Day, the day to express our love to our significant other. At our church we hosted a Galentine’s event—to celebrate the relationships we have with the beautiful women around us.

At the event, we took a moment to and allow God to speak into a place that this month may painfully remind us of—rejection.

We’ve all experienced rejection in some way and so did the four women whose stories I told that night. Their stories demonstrate how God sees them and loves them when others rejected them.

Hagar’s Story

Hagar, the maidservant of Sarai, the wife of Abram experiences rejection through oppression and subjugation.

In Genesis, we’re told that God promises Abram a descendent, despite the fact that Sarai cannot have children. As he and Sarai wait and wait and wait for God to bring about the promise, they get a bit impatient and take the matter in their own hands.

Enter Hagar, Sarai’s maidservant who Sarai decides to give to Abram to have a child with. Hagar indeed gets pregnant and gives birth to Ishmael. This causes all kinds of problems between Sarai and Hagar, who is now Abram’s second wife.

Hagar runs away. But the Lord sees Hagar and he sends a messenger to her. She’s told to return home. She’s also told her son will be a great nation.

Hagar calls God El Roi – the God who sees me

And she calls the place where the messenger met her labeer lahia roi. The well of the Living One who sees.

God visits Hagar again after Sarah’s son Isaac is born and Sarah makes Abraham send Hagar and Ismael away into the desert. God finds Hagar weeping for she fears for her son’s life. God again reiterates his promise that Ishmael would be a great nation and Scripture says God was with the boy as he grew up.

God sees and loves you in the oppressive and unfair situations you may find yourself in.

Leah’s Story

Leah, the first wife of Jacob (Abraham’s and Sarah’s grandson), experiences rejection through deception.  

In Genesis we’re told Jacob is promised Rachel, Leah’s younger sister as a wife for seven years of labor.  However he’s tricked into marrying Leah first. He doesn’t love Leah—he loves Rachel—and he quickly marries Rachel for another seven years of labor.

This causes all kinds of problems between the two sisters. 

The Lord sees Leah is unloved and gives her children. There’s a bit of a pregnancy contest between Leah and Rachel (who at first cannot have children). They even include their maidservants to provide children for Jacob.

But we can see a hint of Leah’s transformation in the names she gives her sons.

  • The first son is Reuben – which means see a son. Leah says God has seen her affliction but she truly hopes her husband will now love her.
  • The second son is Simeon – which comes from to hear. Leah says God has heard she is unloved
  • The third son is Levi – which indicates attachment. Leah says at last her husband will be joined to her.
  • The fourth son is Judah – which means praise. Leah finally receives God’s love for her and praises him, despite her husband’s rejection. 

God sees and loves you in the places and relationships where you feel unloved.

Tamar’s Story

Tamar, the widow of two of Judah’s sons (who’s the fourth son of Jacob and Leah) experiences rejection through unkept promises.

In Genesis we’re told Tamar marries Judah’s eldest son Er and when he dies, she’s given to the second son Oman, who also dies. Judah is a bit concerned about giving her to his youngest son, Shelah—so he sends her back to her father’s home. Tamar expects to be given to his youngest son but she never is so she lives as a widow. Years go by. It becomes apparent that Judah has no intention of securing her place in the family by providing an heir for her neither through himself or his youngest, as tradition dictates. 

Judah visits the land where Tamar is now living. When she learns of his visit, she hatches a scheme. She pretends to be a prostitute, he hires her services, and unbeknownst to him, she gets pregnant. But she’s shrewd. She has a few of his items as pledge for payment, but he never pays her because she returns to her father’s house with his items.

When her pregnancy is discovered, Judah condemns her to death. But Tamar presents the items and declares the owner the father. Judah realizes he has not done what is right, but she has—so she is innocent. 

God does not speak in the story, but in a sense he sees her situation. Tamar’s place in the family is secured by the birth of not just one son, but two sons, Perez and Zerah. God has replaced the sons Judah lost and provided for Tamar in doing so.  

God sees you and loves you when you’ve been lied to and betrayed.

Ruth’s Story

Ruth, a foreigner and widow, refuses to experience rejection through separation.

In the book of Ruth we’re told that a family migrates to a foreign land because of a famine and there they take wives for their sons, Ruth being one of them. Sadly, the patriarch and his two sons both die, leaving three widows, all childless. The mother-in-law bitterly decides to return to her homeland and attempts to send her daughters-in-law back to their father’s houses. One goes back. The other, Ruth, refuses. She declares her love for Naomi, saying where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.

In a series of bold events, Ruth seeks out the protection of a kinsman of her late husband, who just happens to be Boaz who is descended from Perez, the son of Judah and Tamar. He has the ability to secure Ruth’s future and the future of her widowed mother-in-law if he chooses. 

God does not speak however, Boaz tells Ruth may the Lord bless you for what you’ve done—which is her bold loyalty and devotion to Naomi. As the story progresses, Ruth boldly challenges him to be the one who fulfills that blessing. And he does so. He takes her as a wife and she gives him a son, Obed, who is the grandfather of the future King David.

God sees and loves you when in times you find yourself to be the outsider and the outcast.

Beautiful lovers of our Lord. Our God is the one who sees you, he provides for you, he protects you, he redeems you. 

He loves you with an everlasting love. So this month and every month, celebrate the greatest love of all, God’s love for each one of us.

About Jill English Johnston

God writes His story on every heart, if we only pause to read it. My heart has lived in a fantasy world since early childhood and am delighted that God has finally brought me to the place where I can bring the fantasies to life through story. I am currently working on a fantasy trilogy (of course) but I also post thoughts, reflections and (hopefully) inspiration to my website: tabletsofhumanhearts.wordpress.com I am a follower of the Rabbi Jesus, married to my best friend and inspiration, and the mother of three incredible children, one daughter and two sons, a son-in-love, a daughter-in-love and two adorable granddaughters. When not writing, I passionately pursue prayer, reading (never enough time to read them all!), and the outdoors. My husband and I both served in the US Navy and have lived/travelled through many states and all over Asia. We both still enjoy travelling, but we really love our home in New Braunfels, located at the Texas Hill Country.
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