God is in control of our circumstances. We often question that idea because things aren’t happening the way we want. Our situations may seem unfair, difficult, painful or even scary, but this doesn’t change the reality that God is at work in them.
Jacob’s life was one long, slow, hard reminder of this lesson. He was destined to be the one who inherited God’s blessing to Abraham. Instead, he was born second. Jacob created a comfortable life working in the tents at home, but God had other plans. Plans to prepare Jacob to receive His blessing.
How did God get Jacob moving? He upsets Jacob’s comfortable situation. After Jacob stole his father’s blessing, inviting his brother’s murderous wrath, Jacob ran. While he was running from Esau, he met God.
God provided a place for Jacob to live, marry, have children and become wealthy. He got comfortable but God wasn’t finished. How did He get Jacob moving? He used difficulty. Laban mistreated and used Jacob. God blessed him in spite of this and gave Jacob what was rightfully his for 20 years labor. Over time, the relationship between Jacob and Laban became increasingly strained, and when the time came, Jacob was ready when God said, “Go home.”
Jacob was finally headed in the right direction but his heart was still in the wrong place. God turned to a familiar tool – trouble. Actually, it was just the perception of trouble. Jacob’s attempt to mend bridges with Esau met an unsettling response. Esau left with 400 men to meet Jacob, the report of which sent Jacob into a state of complete panic and sheer terror.
The perception of trouble led Jacob to seek God. Blessing had not changed Jacob, but trouble had. For the first time, we see Jacob take the initiative to seek God. He cried out to God, grateful for His blessing, but desperate for His help.
Jacob’s journey culminated with an all-night wrestling match in which he learned an important lesson. His life had been marked by struggle in which he thought he was fighting men: first Esau, then Laban. In reality, God was working through all of it to direct him.
Just like Jacob, we often view our circumstances as worse than they actually are, and we’re completely wrong! Perhaps God is shaping us through our circumstances, much like he shaped Jacob.
1. What do we learn about God from this scene in Genesis, particularly His blessing?
2. How has God been faithful to the covenant promises He gave to Jacob?
3. How is Jacob’s life basically an illustration of 2 Timothy 2:13?
4. Have you experienced times of wrestling with man and God? What have you learned about God through those times?