Faith in a Crisis

FT Lauderdale Calvary Chapel

“Jacob also went on his way, and the angels of God met him. When Jacob saw them, he said, ‘This is the camp of God!’ So he named that place Mahanaim. Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. He instructed them: ‘This is what you are to say to my lord Esau: “Your servant Jacob says, I have been staying with Laban and have remained there till now. I have cattle and donkeys, sheep and goats, male and female servants. Now I am sending this message to my lord, that I may find favor in your eyes.”’ When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, ‘We went to your brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.’ In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups, and the flocks and herds and camels as well. He thought, ‘If Esau comes and attacks one group, the group that is left may escape.’ Then Jacob prayed, ‘O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, Lord, you who said to me, “Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,” I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two camps. Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’”—Genesis 32:1-12 (NIV)

One of my family’s favorite shows is the reboot of the original 1985 series, MacGyver. Today’s passage reminds me of an episode where Riley’s, the edgy hacker on the team, past mistakes come back to haunt her. Before she was a part of the Phoenix Foundation, she and her two friends used their tech skills to develop an extremely powerful code called “N3mesis.” When one of her former friends uses this code to attempt a nuclear meltdown, Riley doesn’t allow her past to debilitate her from performing the task at hand and saving millions of people.

Just as Riley’s past decisions returned in a scarier reality, Jacob’s past deceit returned in the form of what appeared to be his angry brother Esau. Although Jacob had learned from his mistakes and grown to be a righteous man, it seemed to Jacob as though his brother was still harboring feelings of betrayal and bitterness from his approach of bringing “four hundred men” with him. However, Jacob acted with both wisdom and faith in the midst of this scary situation. He split his camp in two so his entire family and wealth wouldn’t be completely destroyed if Esau were to attack, but he also prayed to the Lord in a way we should follow when we face a crisis today.

    1. Jacob recalls God’s character.
      In calling to God as the “God of my father Abraham . . . my father Isaac,” Jacob remembers the faithfulness of God in the past to give him hope for the future.
    1. Jacob remembers God’s command.
      In remembering the command to “go back to your country and your relatives,” Jacob strengthens his faith to complete the work God set before him.
    1. Jacob expresses humble gratitude.
      When Jacob says, “I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant,” he is showing a state of gratitude and humility, even in his desperation. This should be how we approach God in all of our prayers.
  1. Jacob makes his requests and concerns known to God.
    Much like we’re instructed by Paul to present our requests to God through prayer and thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6), Jacob asks the Lord for help and protection. He is honest with the Lord regarding his fear, but he doesn’t let his fear hinder his prayer. He surrendered all his cares on the Lord because he knew God was faithful and kind enough to take them (1 Peter 5:7).

I pray that we, in the face of a crisis and regardless of the varying circumstances, will always react as Jacob did—with faith and wisdom.

DIG: Our God is a God of redemption. Jacob’s past did not define his current standing with the Lord, and it should not for you either. Is there something in your past that still has power in your life? Surrender it to the Lord today!

DISCOVER: How can you better respond like Jacob in the midst of a crisis?

DO: Review what you responded to the questions above, and take a step today towards responding to your situation with faith like Jacob’s.

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