Read: Genesis 31:1-55
Consider: After serving Laban, Jacob’s father-in-law, for twenty years Jacob was told by God to return to his homeland and to his relatives. Notice that God said: ‘… I will be with you’ (Genesis 31:3). Despite this we see in later chapters that Jacob feared returning to his homeland and meeting Esau, his brother.
We need to backtrack a little to see why Jacob was fearful. In Genesis 27 we learn of Jacob’s deception to gain the blessing of his father, Isaac. As a result we read that: Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, ‘The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob’ (Genesis 27:41). This led to Jacob fleeing to live with Isaac’s brother Laban in Paddan Aram, where he married Rachel and Leah and had children.
While living in Paddan Aram Jacob became very wealthy and this meant that when he was leaving to return to his homeland he had not only his family and servants with him, he also had flocks of sheep and goats, and herds of cattle and donkeys. Because he left in a hurry he did not inform Laban he was leaving. Although Laban pursued and confronted him, they finally parted on friendly terms.
If we look forward in Genesis, we can read about Jacob being fearful of meeting his brother and the precautions he took to preserve his family and belongings (Genesis 32). We can also read the details of Jacob and Esau’s meeting (Genesis 33). So did Jacob have reason to fear Esau? In Genesis 33 we read of their amicable meeting and reconciliation. Perhaps a better question would be ‘Should Jacob have been fearful?’ The answer must be ‘No!’ Why? What had Jacob forgotten? He forgot what God told him when he was told to return to his homeland and relatives. God said, ‘… I will be with you’ (31:3).
The reminded me of the incident recorded in the New Testament where the disciples were in a boat and Jesus was sleeping in the stern. When the storm blew up the disciples were fearful for their lives. Why should they not have feared? There was no reason to fear because Jesus was with them in the boat.
When we face difficult situations in life it is all too easy to be fearful of the outcome. It doesn’t matter whether the difficulty is health, family, finance or work related. As a Christian, we need to remind ourselves that when we face these kind of situations, we are not alone. In fact Jesus is with us in all situations, whether good or bad.
‘And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’ (Matthew 28:20).
Pray: Father, forgive us when life’s situations upset our equilibrium and cause us to be fearful. May we live in full knowledge that Jesus is with us in every situation we might face. Amen