Jacob looked up and there was Esau, coming with his four hundred men; so he divided the children among Leah, Rachel and the two female servants. He put the female servants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph in the rear. He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother. Gen. 33: 1-3
There is a fine line between courage and fear. Jacob splits up his family because he is fearful that Esau, in anger, may destroy them all if they are together. In the same moment, however, Jacob shows incredible courage by stepping forward and humbling himself before his brother.
The fine line I speak of is evident in the fact that while God assured Jacob many times that his descendents would be numerous, he was still fearful that his family would be killed – apparently not trusting in God to keep his word. Yet, he did have enough faith to bow down before his brother.
In Matthew, we see another fine line when what some might think is a courageous mother asks for her sons to be given places of honor in Christ’s kingdom (Mt 10:21b). I think, however, she (along with James and John – for the three of them had surely discussed the matter) was acting out of fear – fear that if she didn’t ask, her sons would not be prominent in His kingdom. Of course we know, prominence meant the opposite fate.
I struggle with this fine line every day. In fact, “Courage” is my word for the year. I just can’t seem to figure out why it is so hard to put my complete trust in God. It’s a funny thing (or maybe not), but I have no problem trusting him when it comes to big things, like healing sick relatives or friends, or keeping me safe in dangerous situations. But, when it comes to simple stuff I find myself “handling” them on my own. Perhaps that’s because I know I can’t handle the big stuff without him. I just need to remember that I can’t handle the small stuff without him either.
Oh Great God, I pray for you to remind me every day that you can handle anything – and that, through YOU, so can I. Grant me the courage to fear you and you alone! Amen!