How to fight for your faith when things seem unfair
I love and trust God. It has taken many years for me to rest in that. My constant struggle is thatI’m often tempted to run ahead of God. As an Enneagram One, I’m the get it done person. As a dreamer, I am often inspired to be creative–so when these two things combine, I wind up with big plans that borderline fantasy. Whoops.
An example of this happened in the early years of my marriage. We needed to find a new place to live. I found a cute condo, but my husband didn’t think it was right for us. However, fear and urgency caused me to run ahead. I went to the property management office and put an application in. Not to mention, I paid the initial fee for the application and background check. Yikes! Shortly after, my husband received a promotion and a relocation. Needless to say, my actions did not put us in a very good position.
But God gave me another chance when my husband and I were prayerfully considering moving from our home state of Arizona up to the beautiful Pacific Northwest. We felt God pulling us, and we were following the open doors. A few months in, my husband received a job offer in thePortland area. We were both so excited!
What we didn’t expect was for the offer to not work out. I was convinced that the Lord had aPacific Northwest future in store for us, so I was so incredibly confused and upset when we turned the offer down. Lord, we feel your call. What are you doing?This time, I didn’t run ahead. I waited and went to the Lord like the persistent widow and shared my heart with Him. After a year of prayer and remaining faithful to allowing the Lord to move, my husband not only received a promotion to Seattle, but our relocation offer was far beyond what we prayed for or expected. In the right time, the Lord brought His plan to fruition.
If you are familiar with the Bible you might think of Jacob as a deceiver or a wrestler. But let’s take a step back. Let’s start with his birth.
In Genesis 25, we read that Jacob and his twin, Esau, were very active babies in the womb. It had gotten so bad that Rebekah went to the Lord and asked what was up! The Lord shares with her that the struggle in her womb are two nations and that the older child will serve the younger.
From before Jacob’s birth, it was determined that Esau would end up serving Jacob. Fast forward, the boys grow up and Esau comes in from a hunt completely famished. He noticed Jacob making a killer pot of chili, and he wanted some. Jacob’s first recorded act of deception is manipulatingEsau out of his birthright in exchange for a bowl of food.
We don’t know if Jacob knew what the Lord spoke to Rachel while she was pregnant, but we do see God’s words prove true through this event.
As time passes and Isaac (Jacob’s father) is coming to the end of his life (Gen. 27), he callsEsau in and tells him to hunt some delicious game, make him a meal, and he would give him the blessing of the firstborn. Rachel overhears this conversation and even though she already knewGod prophesied the older would serve the younger, they made a plan to steal the blessing.
This causes Esau to become very angry, and he plans to kill Jacob. Rebekah tells Jacob to flee to her uncle Laban “for a few days.” Well, that few days turns into years! This act of deceit further breaks the family apart.
Later in Genesis, Jacob is en route to approach Esau’s camp and is very afraid; the night before, he mysteriously wrestles with God. Physically. As in, Jacob acquires a limp from an injured hip during this encounter. During the struggle, the “man” asks Jacob to release him, but Jacob says,“Not until you bless me.” Through this, the Lord blesses Jacob by changing his name to Israel, which means “God prevails.”
After this, Jacob blesses the wrestling place because, “I’ve seen God face-to-face, and my life has been saved.” Jacob meets with Esau and he is received with joy and tears. Their relationship was healed, and God prevailed through Jacob’s sin and running ahead of God’s plan.
We could look at this story and see how we can learn from Jacob’s mistakes. Don’t rush ahead ofGod. Don’t deceive people. Don’t trade your integrity for chili just because you’re hangry. But we can also see how we’re given a role in the blessing God has for us.
Much like I ran ahead of God with going beyond mine and my husband’s choice to pass on the condo, Jacob and Rebekah made choices out of anxious and urgent hearts to accomplish what the Lord had already promised and set in motion. It created hurt for my husband and I, and likewise created tension between Jacob and Esau and hurt came about. When we make things happen in our time, it will cause pain.
But as I was reading this and studying it myself, I feel like the Lord revealed something else to me that I missed.
Jacob missed out on a different kind of miracle. You see, in my first story, I ran ahead of God to receive the blessing on my terms. Jacob and Rachael ran ahead of God to receive the blessing on their terms too.
The miracle that Jacob missed out on, that we all miss out on, is the miracle of what it means to trust God before we make those choices, before we run ahead of Him.
Jacob missed out on intimacy with the Lord and being able to partner with the Lord in what He was doing. He turned out to be the recipient of the miracle and blessing instead of being a co-creator of the miracle and blessing by obeying and listening to the Lord and letting the Lord bring about the promise in Jacob’s life in His intended way.
I missed out on partnering in the story God was telling during our relocation too. Surely God takes every part of our lives and brings about his purposes and good. Yes, and amen. But, I missed out on the miracle of partnering with God and watching for what came next. I missed out on a front row seat to the miracles God had when I thought there were no answers. The miracle of trust.
God is so amazing! He will bring about His will and plan even when we mess up. And let’s not miss out on that different miracle, the one that allows us to co-create with God.
How wonderful that we get to be both the recipient of the blessing and are given an active role in giving it.
Pause. Close your eyes. Take 3-4 slow deep breaths. I want you to sit in your body for a moment.Let go of distractions and just allow your spirit to be open. Now I would like you to consider if you are running ahead of God in any way. Notice the emotion that is tied to it (i.e., fear, anxiety, need for control, etc.). But don’t look at those things with judgement or shame! Just notice it! Then, pray this:
God, I see some ways that I have run ahead of You. I know that this comes from a place of (insert your emotion you noticed here: i.e. fear, anxiety, control, etc.). I ask that You forgive me for this, and I thankYou that You don’t look at my (fear, anxiety, control, etc.) with frustration but with understanding. Help me to relax in knowing that You are in control and have a plan. You complete the good work in me8, and take all my experiences and use them for good in my life7. Thank you for your delight and love. In Jesus’ name, amen.