“When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” Genesis 28:16
Jacob had been born the youngest of two twins. His brother Esau, born minutes before him, would receive a great inheritance, a birthright, that would be passed down to him as the oldest son. Jacob knew the significance of this birthright. He had grown up hearing of God’s faithfulness to his grandfather Abraham, and the covenant blessings God had bestowed on him. He knew that those covenant blessings had been passed down to his father Isaac and would then be passed down to the next oldest son, Esau.
How long did Jacob’s heart long for that blessing to be his? How long did he grieve knowing that he was born just a few minutes short of receiving those covenant blessings? The desire was so great that instead of waiting on the Lord, Jacob took matters into his own hands. With the help of his mother, he deceived both his brother and his father into giving him the birthright.
As a consequence of Jacob’s deception, he would have to flee from the only home he had ever known. On the run from an angry brother who vowed to kill him, Jacob came to a “certain place” (Genesis 28:11) where he stopped for the night to rest. During that night, God appeared to Jacob in a dream. God affirmed to Jacob that he was the one who was to receive the covenant promise all along. God said to Jacob, “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you now lie. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and east and north and south. All the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. Look, I am with you, and I will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (Genesis 28:13-15)
Jacob had found himself in a difficult place, alone and probably feeling unsure and afraid of what his future would look like, but this is where God met him. Jacob’s deception would have consequences, but God’s purpose for his life would still be fulfilled. God would not leave him. It was a surprise to Jacob to find God on that journey. He woke up and declared, “Surely the Lord is in this place and I was not aware of it!” (Genesis 28:16)
Like Jacob, many times we find ourselves in a “place” that is not where we expected to find ourselves. Life takes unexpected turns and brings us to broken and disappointing places. If we’re not careful, we can mistake these places as desolate and hopeless. We might even throw up our hands in despair, thinking that God has forgotten us or left us. This is the place we least want to be, the place that looks the furthest and most distant from our dreams.
If we would be still and humble ourselves, we just might be surprised at what we find. In what we think is a place of despair, it is actually the place where the God of the universe wants to meet with us. Some are not willing to surrender to what God wants to do in the broken and painful places of their lives or invite Him into the sacred place of their suffering because their wounds have blinded them to His goodness and faithfulness. But if we will surrender, He will come as He did to Jacob and gently speak to our hearts what is right and true in that moment. His Word will be our food and His hand will sustain. If you are a child of God, you are a descendant of Jacob, and the same blessing that was given to Jacob is promised to you. The Lord says to the descendants of Jacob, “I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob’s descendants, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I, the Lord, speak the truth; I declare what is right.”(Isaiah 45:19)
The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob does not change. He still reveals Himself today, He still speaks, and He still works to fulfill His purposes in our lives. What a wonderful promise that He is never sought in vain. He does not hide Himself from us. What we might think as hopeless places are opportunities to find Him and see Him in ways we haven’t before. He is always redeeming the broken places and restoring what was stolen. Jacob’s mistakes and circumstances did not disqualify Him from the plan God had for Him. When he thought he was furthest away from God, he found that God was as near as the place he laid his head that night.
God is looking for broken and poured out vessels, surrendered to Him. He had to bring Jacob to a place of surrender so that He could accomplish His purposes through him. Whatever “place” you find yourself in today, God will meet you in it. He is always working all things together for good to them that love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). He is longing for our hearts to be soft and malleable in His hands so that even in the midst of the broken places, we can acknowledge that He is God. Then, we too will be able to say, “Surely God is in this place!”
Article Written by: Sherilyn Grant