“Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the LORD stood above it and said: ‘I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go . . .’” (Genesis 28:10-15).
Some may think that Christians ought not to feel this way, but they do. The patriarchs did. The psalmists did. The disciples did. Likely, you have also felt this way, possibly so intensely that you thought you were
going to die.
Jacob took matters into his own hands to secure the blessing from his father, employing deception rather than trusting God. Now he is fleeing for his life. Rather than on his comfortable bed, he is lying on the ground with a stone pillow. What sort of mess has he made of his life? He feels so alone out under the stars! But is he?
God’s angels are there! For a few moments, Jacob is permitted to perceive them. They serve God as He works all things together for the good of His own—even when His own make a mess of their lives with poor decisions.
God did not ignore the sins of Jacob, but He did overcome them. God remains mindful of His Covenant connection with His children even when they forget. While watching over them in their individual lives, God always has His eye on the bigger story; and at the center of that story is the Promised Seed, the Messiah.
Whether from the Old Testament perspective of Jacob or the New Testament perspective of you and me, we have a place in His story because of our faith in Christ. God is invested in each of our lives because Christ offered His sacrifice for us all.
“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go . . .” The word “keep” is worth noting, for it indicates there is something precious to preserve and keep safe. Throughout the Scriptures, the Lord pledges Himself to guard us as His precious treasure. Bearing in mind who Jacob was and the kind of people we are, one may find it inconceivable that God would shower us with grace; yet that amazing, unmerited love for us was conceived in the heart of God.
God will keep us! He is with us, faithfully safeguarding us today and tomorrow, even as we struggle with feelings of lostness and aloneness, even in our pain. We miss out on much comfort when we focus on our troubles rather than His promises.
While He works all things together for our good, He also reminds us, through Word and Sacrament, of His loving commitment and protection – that He can calm our hearts, remove our loneliness, and give us peace.
Written by: Delwyn Maas pastor of Gift of God Lutheran Church in Mapleton, North Dakota.