Do You Feel Cornered in the Desert?

Deliver me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of evil and cruel men.

Psalm 71:4

DesertIt seems like conflict is always with us, especially within unsettled and unforgiving families. Jacob, the son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham, had many conflicts throughout his life; they seemed to follow him wherever he went.

In Genesis 31, Jacob leaves his father-in-law’s (Laban) oppressive ranch environment, so that he can travel to his place of birth. Due to Jacob’s disagreement with his father-in-law, he wanted to find a new location to raise his large family.

Jacob carried two problems as he faced the desert: the father-in-law who was outraged about how and when Jacob departed, and the brother who was outraged about how he had stolen both his inheritance and blessing. As God would have it, both men confronted him in the middle of the desert!

When Jacob learned that Esau, his irate brother, was approaching, he wondered what to do. This would be the first time in twenty years the two brothers had seen each other. He would finally come face-to-face with his brother who definitely had reason to carry a big grudge.

Knowing that Esau was closing in on him, Jacob considered the options before him: he could have his brother ambushed and killed; he could run for another land; he could prepare his men for battle; or he could trust the promises God gave him. In his earlier days, Jacob might have chosen one of the first three options. Instead, with years of personal growth under his belt, Jacob dealt with this crisis by going to the ultimate Problem Solver — the Great I AM — God. He humbly confessed his unworthiness, but then asked to be rescued, claiming the promises of God: “Then Jacob prayed, ‘O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, O Lord, 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 groups. 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 32:9–12)

God desires such humility from his followers. He doesn’t promise to take away all our conflicts and troubles, but He will see us through them when we choose to follow Him. And when we go to God with our problems, He delights to surprise us with an answer we never could have imagined in our wildest dreams.

Personal Application

How do these verses of Scripture speak to you?

“Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:14–15

“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” Psalm 55:22

Suggestion for Prayer

If you are surrounded by conflict, choose today whom you will follow. Then, ask God to rescue you. Give your burdens to the Lord and wait for His sovereign response.

Jim Grassi image and signature  Jim Grassi, D. Min.