Jacob had every reason to be terrified (Genesis 32). Twenty or so years earlier he had swindled his brother Esau of something very valuable. Esau’s rage was murderous and so Jacob ran for his life. Now, returning home with understandable anxiety and guilt, he hears that Esau and 400 men are on their way to meet him. Jacob was “in great fear and distress”.
Have you ever been there? Life seems to regularly throw us distressing and frightening circumstances. Perhaps like Jacob, your heart tells you that you don’t deserve God’s help.
Jacob’s response not only brought him from fear to faith, his experience illustrates a cycle God will bring every Christian through over and over in life.
We can go from fear to faith through prayer. Observe the pattern in Jacob: he is brought to a place of fear and distress. In desperation he goes to God in prayer. He reminds God that he is in this situation by his direction. He acknowledges that even though he is unworthy God has mercifully blessed him already. He tells God his problem specifically. And he reasons with God, based on God’s own promise: “You have said, `I will surely make you prosper and give you more descendants than can be counted’”. You can read between the lines, “How can you fulfill your promise to a dead man?” Really, what Jacob is doing is assuring his own heart before God and then asking God for help out of that assurance.
That is what God wants us to do. Yes, we are unworthy. But God is our God. He helps unworthy people. We can hold his promises before him. And he will rescue us.