February 16, 2010

Promptings: Terror

Genesis 32

In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people … Then Jacob prayed …
Genesis 32:7–9


Jacob was not a praying man. The connections he had with God came only because God had pursued him. So far, Jacob had lived his life mainly by using his own wits. Coldly deceitful, he had cheated his brother out of his father’s blessing (Genesis 27), and he had run away.

Now, after being cheated by his father–in–law for many years, Jacob was on the run again—and he was about to face his brother, who was coming to meet him with 400 men. Jacob was vastly outnumbered. He feared that his whole family could be wiped out. So he aimed to soften the heart of his brother, designing a long caravan of gifts to meet the advancing Esau. He even sent his family ahead, into the teeth of the storm.

Then Jacob found himself all alone on the far side of the river. He feared that his gifts were not enough. Then God came to him—this time as a wrestler. All night long Jacob and “a man” (or an angel representing God—see Hosea 12:2–4) grappled and tried to pin one another down. And as day began to break, Jacob, now wounded, refused to let his opponent go until he had given Jacob a blessing. Imagine Jacob’s surprise when he realized this blessing was from God!

Sometimes we find ourselves in a place of raw terror. But God is with us. And it may lead us to wrestle with God and find a blessing.

Lord, when I feel the cold chill of fear, may I see it as a nudge to seek your blessing. Help me to grow closer to you, even if it means wrestling with you. For Jesus’ sake, Amen

About the author — Kenneth D. Koeman

Rev. Ken Koeman is a pastor at Bellevue, Washington, Christian Reformed Church. He has written Today devotions in past years and has also authored numerous articles for The Banner, the magazine of the Christian Reformed Church. Ken and his wife, Kay, live in Bellevue and have two children and five grandchildren.

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