When Jacob hears that Esau is coming to meet him, his first reaction is fear. A natural reaction; after all, he tricked their father into giving away Esau’s birthright. His second reaction is to make a plan to appease Esau before they meet, and only after that does he pray. This prayer, however, is driven by fear — not faith.
We also often default to fear in uncertain situations. Instead of running to God first, we forget God is already working behind the scenes. Proverbs 2 tells us that if we seek after God, he gives us all the understanding we need. It is encouraging to read that the more we seek after God’s understanding, the more it will come naturally to us. We will begin to default to prayer, rather than fear.
If we don’t seek God’s wisdom, not only will we not understand, but we will also be unable to see what he is doing. The Pharisees in Matthew 12 see the same miracle that everyone else does, but they accuse Jesus of driving out the demon with demonic power. Jesus responds to the Pharisees by saying, “How can you who are evil say anything good?” It’s not just that they don’t want to recognize Jesus for who he is, they can’t recognize him because they are bad fruit.
Sometimes, even if we are seeking after God, we let fear get in the way of our faith and are unable to see how God is working in our lives. When the brothers finally meet, Esau runs to Jacob, embraces him, and weeps — not the reaction one would expect from a brother who is merely appeased. But Jacob’s reaction is key here. He continues to tell Esau how unworthy he is despite Esau’s protests.
God had clearly been working in Esau’s heart to forgive Jacob. But Jacob’s fear makes him blind to God’s work and makes him think it was his attempts to appease Esau that precipitated this change of heart. Ultimately, the brothers do not have the relationship they might have had if Jacob had acknowledged God’s work in the situation from the beginning.
Do you find yourself letting fear get in the way of experiencing the fullness of God’s plan? Seek after him. Spend time reading and studying his word regularly. Practice praying as soon as you find yourself in a fearful or stressful situation, and let God take care of the rest.
Youth Ministries Life Group Leader