You know that thing you’ve been praying and praying and praying about. That situation which makes you rub your forehead, and sigh more often than you realize. The one that kind of sort of makes you short with your children when you think about it for more than five minutes. The one that just seems to have no good solution and little probability for actually turning out the way you want it to. Yeah, that one. The one you wish God would take away or fix or change or deliver you from altogether.
Devotional Scripture: Genesis 33:1-17
Key Verse: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6
You know the one. Whatever you do, don’t stop praying. Don’t give up hope. Transformation is possible and prayer really does work.
Take Jacob and Esau for example. From just about every vantage point reconciliation looked impossible. Anyone who knew the boys probably would have said “No way! They’re as different as night and day. Besides I’ve heard Esau speak of his brother. After what Jacob did to him, there ain’t no kind words comin’ from that man.”
Yet it happened. By the grace of God they reconciled. However unlikely it might have been, when Esau saw Jacob, he ran to him and “embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept” (v. 4).
Um, not quite what everyone was expecting. But when the LORD is on your side you can expect the unexpected. He is not a God who does what everyone expects! His ways are not our ways. His wisdom and knowledge are far beyond our comprehension. So relax. Or get excited. Stop dreading and start believing. Because whatever outcome you’re expecting is likely not the outcome God is planning.
I mean who would have ever thought Jacob would humbly greet his brother as lord and bow before him seven times. Who would have ever thought Esau would embrace his brother and accept his family. Who would have ever thought Jacob would share his blessing, insisting Esau have some of it. Please accept it “because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough” (v. 11). Need I remind you this whole thing blew up over a blessing!
In return, Esau offered Jacob protection (v. 15) So why the change? How did we go from hatred to hugs and kisses? Was it the gifts? A happen so? A misunderstanding? Was the 400 man militia the way Esau always traveled? I doubt it. My friend, just sit and soak this in for a minute. This unexpected reconciliation that no one in their right mind would have ever predicted, was an answer to prayer.
In Genesis 32:11 Jacob had beseeched the LORD, “Please deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him.” And God did in a marvelous way! Just as he did the Israelites from the hand of the Egyptians and then from the hand of the Philistines (on more than one occasion) and the Ammonites and the Amalekites and an evil man named Haman. Just as he delivered Daniel and three boys named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and Peter and Paul and Silas when they prayed! And now us. “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Col. 1:13).
But I know what you’re thinking. What about John the Baptist who had his head chopped off or Stephen, the first martyr. Some deliverance they got! Actually they had a marvelous deliverance as well, unto glory dear friend, unto glory.
If God hasn’t delivered you physically from a situation maybe it’s because he’s delivering you spiritually from a stronghold. Teaching you to have faith. Or maybe he’s delivering your spouse or child or close friend. Perhaps the big fat nothing you’ve been getting from God is actually a powerful deliverance going on at your neighbor’s house as they watch you walk faithfully through hard times.
Because God does answer prayers. Just not always how or when we think he should. So we give up or miss it. Jacob and Esau were in their 90s when they at last reconciled. Their 90s mind you! How many prayers do you suppose their mama prayed for them? This was not an instance in which sibling rivalry dissipated once adulthood prevailed. It went on and on for years. It got worse and escalated beyond anything I’d say Isaac and Rebekah ever anticipated.
Why isn’t God doing anything? Think Rebekah ever asked that question? I certainly think so. But God was doing something – in Jacob’s heart – His foremost concern. Faithfully waiting at every bend in the road. Softening Jacob with kindness until he was ready. Ready to meet God. Ready to commit his life to the Savior, the Deliverer. On the bank of the Jabbok River in a wrestling match viewed only by the heavens.
But take note: His spiritual deliverance came before his physical deliverance. Yes God answered Jacob’s prayer but it wasn’t until after he humbled himself. And by faith walked out ahead of his family ready for God’s will to be done.
My friend, don’t give up. Pray. Have faith. Believe. Pulverize heaven with prayers. He’s the same God today as he was back then. And He answers prayers. A favorite verse around here is 1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (NIV). But I’m thinking it’d be wise to add verse 6 to our mantra “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” Or as the New Living Translation says, “at the right time...” Humble yourself before the LORD sweet friend and he’ll bring deliverance, the perfect kind, when the time is right.
Contemplate and Evaluate:
Have you given up on God? Have you stopped praying because he didn’t answer? How has Genesis 33 encouraged you to do the opposite?
When has God answered your prayers? Was it different than you expected?
When you pray do you ask for God’s will to be done or insist on your own?
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