2020 has been one of those years that just keeps on giving us blow after blow. We feel like we are being assaulted by coronavirus outbreaks, then we feel overprotected by the government and worry about losing our jobs and our mortgages. The stock market plummets and we lose our retirement. Then, just when we start to feel safe going outside while wearing a mask and practicing social distancing, riots erupt in the streets protesting injustice after injustice. We try to get back to some sense of normalcy, but now we have to wonder if our kids will go to school in the fall, if sports and entertainment will resume, and if we’ll ever get back to work. Oh yeah, and there’s an election coming up in a few months that will decide the direction of our country for the next four years, and both of the primary candidates have horrible flaws.
It sure feels like we make it through one crisis just to face another one. Even though millions of Americans are experiencing the same thing, we are isolated, and each one of us feels completely alone.
Jacob can relate. As we read today’s Scripture passage, Jacob has just waded through one major crisis—Laban was pursuing him with deadly intent after Jacob fled, but they’ve made a heap of witness declaring that they will leave in peace… far away from each other. Now, without a moment to catch his breath, Jacob turns toward… another crisis! God has called him to head back home, but waiting for him there will be Esau—a man who was threatening to murder Jacob the last time we heard from him.
Jacob too feels all alone. Jacob too feels like he has just escaped one crisis only to be met by another. And look what happens…
Please read Genesis 32:1-2.
The angels of God met him!
God called Jacob to head back home. God knew it would be difficult. God wasn’t surprised when Laban pursued Jacob, even after God told him not to. And God won’t be surprised by Esau’s interactions with Jacob either. None of the crisis’ that Jacob is facing are taking God by surprise. God knew the road would be difficult, but He still called Jacob to go.
God doesn’t promise us an easy path. He doesn’t promise that we will be healthy and wealthy and live a long prosperous life until we gently fade away into heaven. In fact, Jesus promised us the opposite! Jesus told us that this world will give us trials and tribulations and persecutions. Jesus told us that we would face famines and wars, and rumors of wars, that we would be beaten and mocked for our faith, that we would be put on trial, imprisoned and executed for His sake.
God told us that the road would be hard. And He still called us to go.
Just when it feels like we can go no further, just when it feels like we’ve been beaten down too far, just when it feels like this next crisis will be more than we can take, God reminds us that He’s still with us.
When the angels appear to Jacob, he declares, “This is God’s camp!” He names the place Mahanaim, meaning ‘double camp,’ reminding himself and his family that this is the camp that Jacob has made, but God is making camp here too!
God doesn’t promise Jacob that the road will get easier, but He reminds Jacob that He is with him. Jacob began this journey in obedience to God’s command, and God’s messengers are encouraging Jacob to keep going according to God’s provision.
Whatever you are going through today, be encouraged that the same God who has called you is faithful. He will not always take away the storm, but He will remain with you in its midst. He will never leave you, nor forsake you. Trust in Him. No matter how dark this trial seems, no matter how painful your situation may be, wherever you are in this moment, you too can proclaim, “This is God’s camp!”
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