Life is full of it, some lives more than others. Conflict seemed to follow Jacob everywhere. In his home growing up he lived with ongoing tension as his parents played favorites with Esau and himself. The rift between the two boys eventually drove Jacob from his home and into another contentious relationship.
The deception and arguments that characterized Jacob’s relationship with just about everyone must have grown tiresome. Jacob and Laban, Rachel and Leah, and on and on. Jacob generally avoided outright physical violence, but he did his share of manipulating situations, stirring up arguments, and running when the fire got too hot.
Yet God chose this man to father the start of the twelve tribes of Israel. I don’t know the true state of his faith in God. Some speculate that Jacob never learned to trust God fully. Others conclude that after the wrestling he limped away a changed man. But, most agree that in his early years he was more driven by selfish ambition and preservation than a holy fear of God.
If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been on my side, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God saw my affliction and the labor of my hands and rebuked you last night.”Genesis 31:42 ESV
Still, despite his tendency to argue and the bickering that peppered his wives’ relationship with each other and later his children, when Laban outright confronted him on his way out the door, Jacob recognized that the only thing truly protecting him was God. Interestingly, he does not yet claim this God as his own, but merely the God of his forefathers.
Jacob recognized that it was time to sever this contentious relationship with his father-in-law and see what God had planned for the next season of life.
In the Lord I take refuge;Psalm 11:1 ESV
For the Lord is righteous;Psalm 11:7 ESV
he loves righteous deeds;
the upright shall behold his face.
I don’t need to fight my own battles. I can take refuge in him. I can find hope in the promise that I, as one claiming Christ’s righteousness, will see his face. Conflict doesn’t need to characterize my life.
29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”Mark 12:29-31 ESV
If I can keep these top two priorities intact in my life, God will remain first, and His love will flood out from my life to others. Conflict does not need to be a common refrain in my life as it was in Jacob’s.
Find my refuge in God, love others, and teach my kids to do the same.
It certainly doesn’t mean all conflict is unavoidable or if conflict does come my way that I am not following God; our faith may at times be grossly offensive to those around us, stirring conflict. God graciously gives wisdom to proceed and sometimes will even step in to intervene as he did when Laban was going too far.
Lord, thank you for giving me a place of protection in this contentious world we live in and for wisdom to choose my battles and my words. Help me recognize Your hand in each situation and trust Your plan in the present and future. In Jesus name, amen.