Jacob saw the attitude of Laban and behold, it was not friendly toward him as formerly. The LORD said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.”
Not for the first time in the Bible, nor for the last time, we find someone’s personal life story turn in this way – suddenly he is alone. In Jacob’s case he was virtually like an outcast, traveling alone, forsaken of those who should have protected and helped him. Sometimes God calls us to leave the comfort of what is familiar to follow His plan – this was Abram’s experience – and out of our faith in God we choose to be alone. But often our faith journeys have moments when we suddenly find ourselves alone for different reasons. This was Jacob’s experience. The treachery and unfaithfulness of others caused him to need to leave the place.
We can explain this on a larger scale by simply saying that we live in a fallen world, and we are often alone not because of treachery, but rather such things as disease, simple neglect, close friends moving away, and the self-centeredness that closes people’s hearts to those around them. Perhaps our aloneness is our own fault – we have pushed people away or neglected them ourselves. Perhaps it is the fault of others, and there are those nearby who could and should help, but they are simply not interested in doing so. Probably it is a combination of these things. Whatever the cause (or causes), we need to take the first step and reach out to others, to look and see who we can help, but yet, we just might feel emotionally unable to do so. I think of widows, people out of work, orphans, the emotionally abused – as well as the betrayed – and we seem to discover that every life will have these moments.
When our personal faith story turns in this way, and we find ourselves alone, cut off from others, where do we look for help? The promise of God to Jacob is also Christ’s promise to us, “I will be with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). The Spirit inspired Matthew to place that quotation as the last verse of his gospel, and as such it is like an echo that reverberates its truth in our souls. Where do we go next? What will we do? Who will go with us? These are the questions we ask, but Christ says, “I will be with you always I will go with you!”
Whatever the reasons we are alone, we should take comfort that we are “alone with God,” so we are not truly alone. As head of his own family, with his wives, children, and servants in tow, Jacob may have appeared as anything but alone. Leadership, however, is a lonely position; as the leader of the family, Jacob was peerless among them. The mantel of responsibility of leading and making provision for all fell on him. But for the person of faith, God will help us bear that responsibility. He comes along to strengthen and encourage, to open doors, to make provisions even in the midst of deserts.
If you feel alone, take this reality to heart – if you are alone with God then you are not truly alone. He will lead you and guide you. He will bring new friends into your life. He will open up doors of opportunity and provision. He will lead you into new promised lands that you knew nothing about. In fact, when our life story turns in this way, these seem to be the moments when God does His greater and more profound works in our lives. It was in Egypt that Joseph learned of God’s faithfulness. It was after godly King Uzziah died that Isaiah received the uplifting vision and his calling. It was after facing his trial alone that Paul wrote, “At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me” (2 Tim 4:16-17).
For me personally, all of the greatest and deepest works of God in my spiritual life have been preceded by seasons of aloneness. No one alone with God is truly alone.