"Then Jacob sent messengers ahead to his brother, Esau...
After delivering the message, the messengers returned to Jacob and reported, 'We met your brother, Esau, and he is already on his way to meet you--
with an army of 400 men!"
Jacob was terrified at the news..."
Genesis 32: 1, 6-7 NLT (emphasis, mine)
Such a strong word.
Fear at the next level, but not experienced quite so often.
The last time I can remember experiencing what I would call "terror" was this past fall.
Like Jacob, we received a report. A report that told us basically, "Your whole house is doomed. You're going to have to rebuild from the ground up, and it's going to cost you greatly."
Not exactly the kind of news you want to hear as a new homeowner.
I love this little nugget of a story in Genesis 32 because it shows me what to do when I become terrified. Now this is something I'm logging away, because my natural reaction to terror is not so poised.
In Genesis 32 Jacob is facing the worst kind of news: "Hey, you know that brother you ticked off by tricking out of his birthright and stealing his blessing? Yeah, he's coming for you... oh- and with 400 men."
Wowzas. I wouldn't wanna be that guy.
But here's what Jacob does:
After hearing the messengers' terrifying report, Jacob sought God.
Genesis 32:9 tells us, "Then Jacob prayed..."
Now, don't get me wrong, but I think that's a pretty big "duh" answer, we were all waiting for.
But more importantly than the fact that he prayed, was his actual prayer.
In it, he does these five things:
1- He recognizes God's sovereignty
"O God of my grandfather Abraham, and God of my father, Isaac..." (verse 9)
2- He reminds God of His promises
"... you told me, 'Return to your own land and to your relatives.' And you promised me, 'I will treat you kindly.' (verse 9)
3- He remembers God's faithfulness
"I am not worthy of all the unfailing love and faithfulness you have shown to me, your servant. When I left home and crossed the Jordan River, I owned nothing except a walking stick. Now my household fills two large camps!" (verse 10)
4- He requests God's help
"O Lord, please rescue me from the hand of my brother, Esau..." (verse 11)
5- He reclaims God's promise to him
"But you promised me, 'I will surely treat you kindly, and I will multiply your descendants until they become as numerous as the sands along the seashore-- too many to count." (verse 12)
Coming to God in prayer like this positioned Jacob to walk in wisdom, despite the potentially devastating terror headed his way, trusting in the love, sovereignty and ability of God.
I remember sitting down to pray as we faced our own personal terror. Broken. Confused. Doubtful... my heart frayed. But something would begin to happen...
I would remember that God was in control.
I would remember that He is able.
I would remember that He is a strong tower, my fortress and deliverer.
I would remember that He is a Promise-keeper.
And I'd walk out of prayer standing a little taller;
my heart pounding with hope;
my soul at peace once more;
and my mind filled with wisdom, ready to do what He showed me to do.
Pray. Dwell. Walk in wisdom. Repeat.
"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, 'My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'
For He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you... because you have made the Lord your dwelling place..." (Psalm 91)
Dwelling in Him,
A little about me...
Hi, I'm Katie!
Wife to Craig, mom of three, author, writer, Rooted Moms founder, Jesus-follower, Bible teacher, and coffee enthusiast.
Follow me as I follow Christ and share my heart throughout the journey.