Psalm 46 was written for difficult times, times like this past weekend in El Paso and Dayton. These opening verses are filled with the drama of life-dominating events. But even in chaos and turmoil, God is our refuge, the one we can hang on to:
God is our refuge and strength,
a helper who is always found
in times of trouble.
Therefore we will not be afraid,
though the earth trembles
and the mountains topple
into the depths of the seas,
though its water roars and foams
and the mountains quake with its turmoil.
Jacob was someone who knew that he needed to trust God. He made a mess out of his life. He struggled with God and with people. He conspired with his mother to steal his brother Esau’s birthright and blessing. He was deceived by his father-in-law about whom he would marry. He, in turn, managed to turn the tables and deceived his father-in-law to get his best livestock. Finally, it all caught up with Jacob. He fled from his father-in-law only to learn that Esau was coming to find him. One night when he was alone and worried he came across a man. But it was not just an ordinary man. Jacob wrestled with the man all through the night and would not let him go. The man, actually an angel of God or a theophany, responded by injuring his hip. But, still, Jacob would still not let go, so we read in Genesis 32:
Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
Jacob, the conniver, the con artist, is nonetheless a model for your faith. He held on to God with all that he had. He understood this is God’s world and he needed the blessing of God to survive. Jacob’s story is not one that would be typically held out as a model to follow. But throughout his life, he knew that God was God and he was not. Hebrews 11 lists Jacob as a man who lived by faith.
As Psalm 46 reminds us that the God of Jacob is our refuge and our strength. No, Jacob did not get everything right. But he got God right. Jacob is an example to you and to me that our hope lies not in how good we are, but in how good God is. Jacob knew that the most important thing in life is clinging to the promises of a faithful God. Many of the days of humanity are dark. But even in the darkest valley, God is still our God and merciful shepherd. Follow Jacob and hang on to the living God of heaven and earth!