I had a funny dream in the night – just before I woke up. I dreamt I was having an argument with a friend of mine. I can’t remember all the details but it was something very silly to do with cardboard boxes?! What I do remember is that I woke up feeling very agitated and upset because we had disagreed. Later when I arrived at church I saw my friend, I felt a bit funny because we had been so cross with each other in my dream. I had to quickly check with him that we were OK because, even though the dream was created by my subconscious brain, I felt awkward and defensive with him. It was all fine though and we quickly made up – well there was nothing to remake really because the argument had been a silly one, in my head, that he knew nothing about! Ha. Just imagine how hard it would be though to make up after twenty years instead of a few hours. Imagine that instead of a fictional argument over a trivial subject, the last time you’d seen each other you had tricked your brother out of his inheritance and stolen his blessing. Suppose you had been forced to run for your life from him? What must it have been like for Jacob returning to see Esau after all this time?
“And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and he is coming to meet you, and there are four hundred men with him.” Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed…” Genesis 32:6-7
Jacob is pretty scared – what will Esau do to him? He tries sending extravagant gifts of goats and rams and camels and cows and donkeys in an attempt to appease his brother. Each gift is sent with a message which essentially amounts to “Please forgive me.” He splits his family and possessions into two groups so that if one half is attacked then the other half might escape. He also prays;
“And Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your kindred, that I may do you good,’ I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps. Please deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him, that he may come and attack me, the mothers with the children. But you said, ‘I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’” Gen 32:9-12
What a brilliant prayer! He starts by reminding himself of who God is – the God of his fathers. He has a history in God. Jacob also remembers that he is in this position because he is being obedient to God’s instruction to go home to his family. He is humble and grateful speaking out about God’s steadfast love and faithfulness to him – just look at what God has done already. When he left he had nothing but a walking stick, now he returns with so much that he is able to give away extravagant gifts and split his possessions in half and there is still a huge crowd of critters and servants and family. Jacob continues his prayer being honest and real about his circumstances and his feelings – “I fear him, that he may come and attack me” – Jacob faces the reality of his situation, he expresses his fear before his maker and asks for His help. I love that he then declares God’s promises to him – reminding himself and God of what He has said – “I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.“. His circumstances made him fear that his family would be wiped out but that was contrary to what God had promised him – that his descendants would outnumber the sand on the beach, so who was he going to believe? His circumstances and feelings or God’s word?
Jacob has come a long way hasn’t he? All those years of toil have changed him and matured him and now he returns home to face the music – not letting his fear divert him from the plans God has for him. We all experience this at times, when the situations we find ourselves in appear to directly contradict what God has promised us. It can be hard to see things from God’s perspective or anticipate how He will take us from here to there but if He said it then whatever our circumstances say to the contrary – He is faithful! That is what faith is – trusting God’s faithfulness, being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we can’t see.
“So we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal”. – 2 Corinthians 4:18
Facing our fears with faith and falling onto God’s faithfulness and God’s word is the way we take hold of the unseen and eternal – we don’t run away from our past, or deny our present reality but we stand on God’s promises for our future. God had promised to do Jacob good! This night is the tipping point for Jacob – and now he finds himself alone;
“And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day…. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.”” Gen 32:24 & 26-28
Dear friends what an encouragement this story is to us, whatever circumstances we are facing, whatever fears we are battling – our God is faithful. Let us not give up wrestling in prayer for what is as yet unseen. Let’s not let go or grow weary and loose heart but lets hold tight to God’s promises that are ours in Christ Jesus!
“For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.” 2 Cor 1:20
May you know his Yes and Amen this week as you pray and prevail.
God bless you lots. Much love Rach x