Last week in our look at the life of Jacob (through the book "Escaping with Jacob" by David Ramos), we looked at how Jacob's life is beginning to turn around. He has a family of his own and is becoming wealthy. But there are loose ends: Jacob's greedy uncle Laban has his schemes and then there's the matter of Jacob's family back home. God still has work to do us in molding Jacob into the father and leader he has called him to be,
Week 11: Read Genesis 31:1-21 (When God is With Us)
"Something is changing in Laban's household and Jacob is beginning to notice. Laban's son (who were likely competing with Jacob to some degree) see how rich their relative has become and bring the issue before their father. Laban is a man of greed and will not have someone else getting rich at his expense.
At this moment, God intervenes. God comes to Jacob in the midst of the boiling controversy and tells him to return home. Jacob wants to make sure his wives are on his side before he leaves and makes a case that the best thing for all of them would be to return to his homeland. Both of his wives agree (they probably knew how fickle their father could be). So Jacob readies his belongings, which now consist of a huge group of animals, servants, and children, and manages to sneak away while Laban and his sons are busy with their own matters. Thus, Jacob's exit from the house of Laban mirrors how he entered it - once again, running for his life.
It's been a long twenty years for Jacob under Laban's 'care.' He's been deceived multiple times, and was made to work for nearly nothing. Only when Jacob begins to play the game back does he amass enough wealth to consider striking out on his own.
Yet through it all, God has never left him. There is one promise God keeps bringing up throughout the story of Jacob. In each instance, no matter what wrong Jacob has done or how bad the situation looks, God repeats his promise 'I will be with you.' It's this promise that finally gives Jacob the courage to leave Laban. Furthermore, this promise is what Jacob uses to convince his wives that they will be okay leaving their father's land.
Christians, either consciously or unconsciously, ask the question - what does it look like for God to be with me? From the story of Jacob I think we can list out a few ideas. God being with us does not mean we are without pain or struggle. It doesn't mean all our plans will work out, or that every prayer we pray will be answered (particularly according to our desire). It doesn't mean people won't take advantage of us, cheat us, or hurt us.
Instead, God being with us means that God will see everything that happens. God will protect us, but not from everything. He will provide, but not always in the way we want. He will reach into our lives and do incredible things, and speak to us, and help us remember that we are not alone. Most importantly, God being with us means that everything that does happen to us - even when it feels like a boulder being dropped into our life - melts into a puddle for God to mold so that it can be created into something beautiful. God being with us means that no matter what happens, we get God in the end.
Takeaway from today's lesson: God's promise to Jacob is the same promise God's makes to us: I will be with you.
Prayer: God, help me know that you are near, especially when it doesn't feel like it. And help me to know that everything that you allow will ultimately be made good. Amen.