A Lesson About Worry
Jacob was heading home, but he was worried. Years previous, he had deceived his brother Esau and his brother had decided to kill him, so Jacob had fled. Jacob was tired of running and now simply wanted to go home and have peace with Esau. However, the word was out that Esau was coming to meet his brother with a band of armed men. Jacob was worried sick. ("Then the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, 'we came to your brother Esau, and he also is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.'" —Genesis 32:3-7)
On this trip home, Jacob discovered that God had not forsaken him, even though he had messed up years before. As Jacob worries himself to sleepless nights about the fate of his family, God visits him.
"So Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met with him. When Jacob saw them, he said, 'This is God’s camp.' And he called the name of that place Manhanaim" (Genesis 32:1, 2).
I imagine Jacob’s quaking heart was once again peaceful. Seeing angels should really calm the pounding of one’s heartbeat. But it did not last long. Five verses later we read, "So Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the people that were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two companies" (verse 7).
Yes, his humanity shines through the glow of angel’s wings. So take courage if you turn your worries over to God and they come back tenfold! You are in excellent company with one of the great men of the Bible.
I imagine in my mind Jacob’s pondering. It is 3:00 a.m. Jacob is wide-awake, staring at the skins stretched over his tent frame. What should he do about this brother of his? A flash of ingenuity floods his mind. He will split up his family and herds into two companies and send them in opposite directions so his entire family won’t be massacred. With the issue settled, he drifts off to sleep.
The next night, with the moon sheltered behind drifting clouds, Jacob sent his family across the creek and he remained to talk alone with his God. Suddenly—through the darkness—a hand touched his shoulder! His brother! Jacob’s adrenalin kicked into high gear as in one flashing movement he grasped his attacker in a vise-like grip.
Muscles flexed and strained. Neck veins bulged and pulsated. Sweat covered Jacob’s body as the two wrestled and struggled throughout the night. As the horizon lightened in the early morning, the realization came to Jacob that he was fighting not with a man, but with God Himself! The touch on his shoulder was not his brother nor his brothers "hired gun," but "a man." A couple verses later we read, "And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: 'For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.'" (Verse 30).
Heaven paused for Jacob, and he did not realize it! He was too worried to notice. You and I are like Jacob sometimes—or at least, I am. We don’t slow down long enough to allow God to calm our troubled minds. To help us think through the issues. To help us determine which items in life we can do something about and which we have no control over.
It is true that Jacob thought his brother was out to locate and kill him. Maybe that is why he was on guard. But notice that in the big issues (and the small), God takes control. He sent real live, visible angels for Jacob to see. That is what I call assurance! Have no fear! "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7).