The holiday season is a time when we think about family and getting together to share the blessings of being around our loved ones. It is a time that is celebrated beginning with Thanksgiving—thanking the Lord for our many blessings because He is with us always—and extending through Christmas, where we honor the birth of Christ who brought us eternal salvation (even though he likely wasn’t born in December). But so many around the world are unable to celebrate these good tidings with family members because they are estranged or feuding, which makes the season very sad.
The Bible gives us a very good example of how to handle even the deepest division within our families.
Genesis 32-33 recalls the story of Jacob and Esau reconciling their relationship after 22 years. It begins with Jacob being extremely distraught by news that Esau was coming with a company of 400 men. Jacob prayed to the Lord in Genesis 32:11,
“Deliver me, I pray of you, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.”
Now Jacob, being wise, sent Esau hundreds of goats and sheep as well as camels, cattle, and donkeys. Jacob hoped Esau would “accept” him. Essentially, Jacob went before the Lord in prayer and then began humbling himself before Esau. He even restored much of the inheritance he wrestled away from Esau in deceiving their father Isaac into giving Jacob the blessing of the firstborn. The night before Esau came, Jacob, still distressed, was alone.
Genesis 32:23-30 tells us Jacob wrestled with a “man” until daybreak. Jacob wouldn’t let go until he received a blessing, as the “man” was God. We know this because the “man” told Jacob,
“Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel.”
And Genesis 32:30 says,
“Jacob called the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”
Esau and his band of 400 came that morning. Jacob “bowed himself to the ground seven times until he came near to his brother.” Esau ran to Jacob, embraced him, kissed him, and they wept.
Jacob had wrestled with God and would not let go until he received an answer. Jacob’s humility before Esau led to reconciliation.
In Genesis 33:10, Jacob says,
“I have seen your [Esau’s] face, as though I had seen the face of God, and you were pleased with me.”
Even with their reconciliation, we see that this family feud continues between Arabs and Jews because of the choices people make.
We control our choices. We can choose to continue in distrust and animosity, which becomes a bitter root. Or we can choose to humble ourselves before the Lord and put away the pride at the center of division. We can focus on the good rather than the negative, irrespective of what others choose.
What choice can we make that will change the legacy of our family, mend our hearts, and please our Father which is in heaven? Through the example of Jacob wrestling with God, receiving blessing, and choosing humility before his estranged brother, we, too, can find the blessing of reconciliation. If the other person chooses to remain estranged, we are blessed by our choice in humility before God.
Posted in The Daily Jot