Discovering His heart: He gives the assurance of victory in response to our tenacious prayer
The assurance is a term I remember from my childhood. It meant praying until the assurance came – the word, the guarantee, the promise that would flood our beings with calm and confidence. Although it’s not a term I hear used very often today, the assurance is still ours when we pray through, not giving up until that sense of victory fills our hearts. In our reading today, Jacob wrestled through to his victory.
I would imagine that Jacob’s heart sunk down around his knees – yes, humanly impossible, yet feels so real – when his messengers returned with the news that Esau was advancing with an army of 400 men. As any father would do, Jacob went into protection mode and divided the wives, children and animals into two groups—perhaps one group would survive. “Then Jacob prayed…” (9)
In his prayer, Jacob reminded God, twice, of His promises to him, “O Lord, you told me, ‘Return to your own land and to your relatives.’ And you promised me, ‘I will treat you kindly.’” (9) What better ground did Jacob have to make his plea to God for help than to remind Him of His promise, something David did repeatedly in the Psalms. And better yet, God knew Jacob had been paying attention to His words. When we are facing a challenge, we can boldly remind God of His promises – whether standing on His written Word or those He shares deep within our hearts. I believe He is blessed that we have been paying attention.
“O Lord, please rescue me from the hand of my brother, Esau. I am afraid that he is coming to attack me, along with my wives and children.” (11) Jacob’s prayer revealed that he was afraid, and in that fear he assumed that Esau was coming to kill him. Cautionary fears, such as touching fire, protect us in life because we respect what that fire can do, but baseless fear never produces a reasonable response. Jacob, reminiscent of his mother, decided he would help God out by trying to appease Esau with an abundance of gifts. As we soon learn, this was an exercise in futility – Esau was not angry and these gifts were unwanted and somewhat insulting to Esau because he was a wealthy man. Our fears produce unreasonable responses to our problems – exercises in futility.
Jacob! Always the schemer – but not for long! Jacob sent his gifts and family ahead, but stayed behind in the camp and had an encounter with an angel, a wrestling match like no other. Jacob was about to earn the blessing he had received through deception so long ago from his father. All through the night, Jacob wrestled the angel with tears and pleading (Hosea 12:4) and would not stop until he received the blessing, the victory, the assurance. Jacob left Peniel, the face of God, with a limp and a new name, Israel, both reminders that God would be in control of his life now, no deceiving and scheming, a Prince with God.
Even better for us today is that we do not wrestle alone! “The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness…prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” (Romans 8:26) Oh, that we would be as tenacious as Jacob, praying until the assurance comes and until we receive the blessing. Blessed Assurance!
Moving Forward: I choose to relinquish baseless fears that only bring futile responses from me. In my challenges today, I will wrestle with tenacious prayer until the assurance comes, moving forward with a calm heart and with confidence in His promises.
Tomorrow @ Judges 17-21