“Deliver me, please from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I am afraid of him; he may come and kill us all, the mothers with the children. Yet you have said, ‘I will surely do you good ….” Genesis 32:11-12a (NRSV)
Why on earth should Jacob be afraid of his brother, Esau? After all, Jacob had only stolen Esau’s birthright for a bowl of lentil stew and his blessing from his father Isaac by pretending to be Esau? Why on earth should Jacob be afraid of Esau. After all, what was done was done many years ago. Surely Esau could let bygones be bygones. The truth is so often we can’t let bygones be bygones and that is what Jacob believes about his older brother even though years have now passed since those events! Jacob was living with the nagging fear that his brother, Esau would have his revenge!
That is the human situation we have here.
But Jacob has been given a divine promise. God has said, “I will surely do you good and make your offspring as the sand of the sea which cannot be counted because of their number.” Twice Jacob repeats what God has said: “I will do you good.” The fear is very real and it is as if Jacob tries to convince himself of God’s promise by repeating it.
Like Jacob, we know what it is like to be buffeted by fear. We have our share of fears: about our health, about getting a job, about our children or our parents, about our finances, about the unknown or what we think might happen.
We also have been given some divine promises.
“Be strong and bold; have no fear … because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in time of trouble.” Psalm 46:1
Jesus said, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20
O Lord, we know what it is like to be frightened. Our fears can get the best of us … often paralyzing us. Forgive us when our anxieties consume us. Forgive us when we fail to trust Your promises. When our fears would overwhelm us, remind us that You will never fail or forsake us, that You will be with us to shelter us and strengthen us in times of trouble, and that You will always be with us. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.