I am reading the story of Jacob in Genesis.
Jacob was in a most unpromising position to make a fortune.
“Name your wages,” Laban said, and Jacob did, modest ones: the streaked and speckled sheep and goats, and dark sheep (Gen 31-32). (Sheep were normally pure white, and goats pitch black).
Laban agreed, but then removed all the streaked or spotted or specked goats, and all the dark lambs, and put them in the care of his sons, a three days’ journey from Jacob.
Who must have realized, of course, but uses his own selective breeding to create his own strong speckled flocks which he too keeps separate, so growing exceedingly prosperous.
Laban changes his wages ten times (Gen 31:7) but still God ensures that the strong lambs and kids born had the colouring of those promised to Jacob. He leaves with hundreds of goats, rams, camels, cows, bulls, donkey and servants
* * *
Protection from one’s enemies is one of the surprising aspects of God’s covenant and blessing of Abraham (Gen 14:20).
I guess Israel, as an embattled nation in hostile enemy territory, needed this psychological and actual protection.
Enemies are a fact of life. We make some by our own bad behaviour, alas. But some just appear like mould or fungi, through no fault of our own.
Some people are jealous of your face, some are jealous of your place, some are jealous of your lace, and some are jealous of your grace, R. T. Kendall writes.
If, however, we were unable to do the work God gave us to do, because of enemies or opposition or hostility, faith would be toothless. We would be living in a world in which men were sovereign, not God.
Even when we do suffer at the hands of our enemies, they are God’s tool to move us upwards and onwards. They provide “the kick from behind and pull from in front” which is, often, how God indicates his will. And by blocking us, they, ironically, often increase our focus on the work God has called us to do.
* * *
Are you facing hostility or opposition or difficult circumstances?
Some God will allow to strengthen your character. Some of these will ensure that you turn your eyes upwards and see what He can do despite your circumstances.
How would you ever know that God is greater than all the circumstances ringed against you, unless you experienced difficulties and his deliverance?
So there is always a way of escape I believe; a way of following God and stepping into the destiny he has called you to, even when pursuing it seems to be difficult or impossible.
Because the forces ranged against us, of circumstances, enemies or difficulties are only part of the picture.
* * *
The King of Aram sent horses and chariots and a strong force.
An army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.
“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike this army with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked. (2 Kings 6).
Though you have laboured all night and caught nothing, the seas are, in fact, alive with fish. Ask the Lord where to cast your net.
Though things appear bleak and impossible, you serve the God of clever ideas, of miracles whose heart is “to set your hands free from the basket, remove the burden from your shoulders” (Psalm 81:6.)
Cast your eyes upwards. Help—good ideas, wisdom, providential circumstance, even, perhaps, a small miracle– is very likely at hand.