By: Craig Mercer
March 26, 2021
When you struggle with fear or anxiety, how do you think God responds? Anger disappointment in difference. Or even worse maybe you're uncertain which even causes more fear and anxiety in this video we want to take a look at how God actually responds to our fears and anxieties irrespective of their source.
To do that we're going to take a look for the window if you will of an early family drama centered on two brothers, you might have heard of them. Jacob and Esau and we're going to focus on Jacob's anxiety and God's response to it to do that we're going to take a look at Genesis 28 verses 10 through 20 to.
So here in Genesis 28. Verses 10 through 11 we see a deserved departure to an uncertain future.
It's important to remember that Jacob is a liar a cheat and manipulator and flees his home for fear of his brother killing him. He is alone anxious and uncertain about the future, so what we see in verse 12 through 15 is an unexpected encounter with a gracious father.
Now, before we go any further what's important to remember here is that he goes to sleep in his sin-induced anxiety and fear and is encountered by the God of grace.
God draws near not to confront. Jacob's sin as you would expect but the calm has anxiety with a two-fold promise let's take a look.
One, "you will have a future land. I am the Lord the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac the land on which you lie. I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth and you shall spread abroad to the west into the east into the north into the south. And in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed."
Then secondly he says, "you will have a present help. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised to you."
What an unexpected way God draws near to a conniving Jacob, right?
Grace is extended rather than judgment; nearness is promised rather than distance.
This is the way God often meets us in our fear and uncertainty with a reminder of his promises and presence. And what we see is an all-filled response to a gracious promise and verses 16 through 22 then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it and he was afraid and said how awesome is this place this is none other than the house of God and this is the gate of heaven.
Jacob's heart is now filled with awe of God rather than anxiety and fear about his circumstances. So in response to God's revelation of goodness Jacob dedicates himself to God for the first time and moves forward with a new perspective and priority. I think we see here in this narrative that an all of God actually displaces anxiety and fear. So 20 years of grace-filled drama ensue 20 years pass and a lot of drama with Laban Rachel and Leah and the birth of many children.
Yet despite all the difficulties. God prospered Jacob immensely. However, Jacob wanted to return to his homeland and he was losing favor with his uncle which would have produced anxiety and stress for sure. Genesis 31 verses 1 and 2 says "now Jacob heard that the sons of Laban were saying Jacob has taken all that was our father's and from what was our father's he has gained all this wealth and Jacob saw that Laban did not regard him with favor as before."
So God draws near and instructs Jacob to go. "And the Lord said to Jacob return to the land of your father's into your kindred and I will be with you. Jacob was able to lean into the fear and anxiety of what an encounter with his brother would create because he was leading on God's promise to go with him."
If God would be so gracious and attentive to Jacob you can be assured he will be no different with you.
So back to the original question, we began with when you struggle with fear or anxiety. How does God respond? The answer is God responds as a concerned and compassionate father.
Isaiah 41:10 says "fear not for I am with you be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
So what we learned here is that fear even provides the opportunity to nurture our faith by helping us to acknowledge our weaknesses and learn to lean into God's presence for help.
This is a wonderful truth and a great thing to remember when we struggle with fear and anxiety.