Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Jacob's Trouble

Jacob, the patriarch, was finally on his way home. Home for him, however, was a bit different than home is for you and me. He had left home because his brother wanted to kill him, and as far as he knew, his brother’s feelings hadn’t changed. Knowing that his only hope was in God, Jacob stopped to pray. While he was praying, a strong hand took hold of him. Thinking that he was being attacked, he began to fight with the person who had touched him. Look at how Ellen White describes his struggle:

“While he was thus battling for his life, the sense of his guilt pressed upon his soul; his sins rose up before him, to shut him out from God. But in his terrible extremity he remembered God's promises, and his whole heart went out in entreaty for His mercy….All penitent and broken, he clung to the Angel; "he wept, and made supplication" (Hosea 12:4), pleading for a blessing. He must have the assurance that his sin was pardoned. Physical pain was not sufficient to divert his mind from this object. His determination grew stronger, his faith more earnest and persevering, until the very last” (PP 196.3).

Now look at the connection she makes: “Such will be the experience of God's people in their final struggle with the powers of evil. God will test their faith, their perseverance, their confidence in His power to deliver them. Satan will endeavor to terrify them with the thought that their cases are hopeless; that their sins have been too great to receive pardon. They will have a deep sense of their shortcomings, and as they review their lives their hopes will sink. But remembering the greatness of God's mercy, and their own sincere repentance, they will plead His promises made through Christ to helpless, repenting sinners. Their faith will not fail because their prayers are not immediately answered. They will lay hold of the strength of God, as Jacob laid hold of the Angel, and the language of their souls will be, "I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me." {PP 202.1}

To me, this looks like a severe mental struggle. The time of trouble that takes place before the second coming of Christ (called the time of Jacob’s trouble in Jeremiah 30:7) will be a time of physical trial (running into the wilderness, etc.), but I think that far greater than that, it will be a time of mental and emotional anguish. The devil is going around as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8), and how better to hurt us than to cause us emotional and mental pain? Even E. White describes this time as filled with “scenes of affliction and distress” (DD 41.1).

You may be thinking, “But I already have enough stress! How can I handle more?” When people I love are hurt, when I see my own wickedness, when the devil presses upon me his feelings of hopelessness and guilt, it is easy for me to feel like Jacob and try to fight for my life. I go through the day with my defenses up, on guard, struggling through every difficulty in hand to hand combat. But, just like it was when Jacob clung to his Lord that he won the fight, when I cling to my Lord, He will give me the victory over the discouragements that the devil throws my way.

The trials we have today are strengthening us for the ones to come. Each time you remember God’s promises, the greatness of His mercy, and cling to Him in faith (even when it looks like He isn’t answering your prayers), you are building muscles that will enable you to hold tightly to the strength of God in the future. Jacob could tell God, "I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me," because his past relationship with God gave him the strength to hold on. Today is an opportunity for you to build your clinging muscles, to rely on the strength of God through your trials; all you have to do is hold on.


  1. "...it was when Jacob clung to his Lord that he won the fight.."
    I like that thought.

  2. I'm thankful for all of the opportunities the Lord has given me lately to build my clinging muscles. Well actually, I'm not. I'd rather have things smooth and easy. I'm glad God is in charge and not me or I'd be in terrible shape:-)