If you were asked to assess your life up to today, what would you say? Would you sing along with John Peterson, “Jesus Led Me All the Way”? Or would you sigh along with Jacob, “Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life”? (Gen. 47:9) I think this is one of the saddest verses in Scripture for a man of faith to utter. In light of God’s abundant grace it is hard to conceive this attitude, but Jacob said it.
There are no doubts that Jacob had troubles. He was a cheat and was cheated. He wanted it all on his terms both when at home with Isaac and Rebekah and in Padan-Aram with his new family. Both times his impatience and greed cost him dearly. His dissatisfaction led to family turmoil in both his birth home and his new home. All of that is true, but it is not the whole story.
The whole story is that God had chosen him by grace before he was born to receive the covenant and the promises. Before his birth Jesus was leading him! After his great sin toward Isaac, God appeared to him in a dream with many precious promises. After his deceit toward Laban, God appeared to him again with more assurances. When confronted by his potentially murderous brother God again appeared to him and renewed the promises and the covenant. When faced by the hostility of the Canaanites after the rape of Dinah and his son’s retribution for it, God stayed the hand of the heathens by placing a fear of Himself within them. When he thought he had lost his favorite son, God had really preserved him for the ultimate salvation of the entire family and Jacob got to see him again. Instead of starving in Canaan God gave him a home with plenty in Egypt. God’s abundant grace and the leading hand of Jesus were on his life from beginning to end.
Instead of grumping Jacob should have sung Edward Bickersteth’s hymn “Peace, Perfect Peace”. Bickersteth takes all the complaints of Jacob and gives them a crisp reply from the throne of grace. The complaints are: “In this dark world of sin, sorrows surging round, future all unknown” and “death shadowing us and ours.” God’s grace answers: “Jesus whispers peace within, on Jesus bosom naught but calm is found, Jesus knows and He is on the throne, Jesus has vanquished death” and lastly, “Jesus calls us to heaven’s perfect peace.” There was abundant grace for all of Jacob’s troubles and ours. Rejoice in the answers of Grace that God supplies and sing with Bickersteth, “Peace, Perfect Peace.”