20 Then Jacob made a vow: “If God will be with me and watch over me on this journey, if He provides me with food to eat and clothing to wear, 21 and if I return safely to my father’s house, then the LORD will be my God. 22 This stone that I have set up as a marker will be God’s house, and I will give to You a tenth of all that You give me.” (From Genesis 28, HCSB)
At first glance, nothing may seem to be wrong with what Jacob is saying. God does watch over us and provide for all of our needs. He does keep us safe. So of course these are the terms of our contract with God, right?
So what about the times when we subjectively don’t feel God with us? What about when we are naked and hungry, in peril or distress? What about when life isn’t rosy? Will we declare God in breech of contract and stop serving him, or will we trust Him to see us through this hard time somehow?
God’s promises don’t include us never experiencing struggles and hardship and trouble and affliction. It doesn’t include us not suffering for His name’s sake. In fact, God warned us of just the opposite, those who follow Jesus must take up the cross ourselves, and we will face hatred and opposition if we’re serving him. We will have trouble. What we do have is his promise he will never leave us nor forsake us, that he will be there whether we feel his presence or not, that nothing in all of creation can separate us from his love, not even death itself.
Don’t be a sunshine Christian who says “If live is going well, I will serve you.” Be a rain-or-shine child of God who loves and trusts our Father and our Brother the King through all times, because of what he has already done for us. We can’t know for sure this was a fault for Jacob–God’s greatest provision for us, for our salvation and eternal safety, were still ahead of him, as were the New Testament words of Jesus I referenced, but we have no such covering.
Lord, give me the grace and courage to seek first the kingdom of God and your righteousness, and the faith and trust to know all these things we worry over will be added unto us. Strengthen me to endure with you as my God no matter what this life brings. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.