1. Wilson, Jan

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"Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." Genesis 28:15, ESV

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Jacob's wrestling with his brother, Esau, began in the womb. He entered the world grasping Esau's heel and as the brothers grew, so did their contention. Their parents had favorites, with Isaac preferring Esau and Rebekah favoring Jacob. Jacob's ambition played out later in life when Esau returned famished from a hunting trip. Jacob exploited his brother's weakened condition by withholding food from him until he surrendered his birthright as payment for some stew (Genesis 25:19-34).


Time passed, and Isaac, their father, old and going blind, intended to bless Esau before he died. But Rebekah, their mother, incited Jacob to impersonate his brother and trick his father into blessing him instead (Genesis 27). He donned Esau's clothing, covered his smooth skin with animal fur to resemble his brother's hairy arms, and lied outright to his uncertain father: "I am Esau, your firstborn" (Genesis 27:19, ESV). So Jacob received the double-portion blessing traditionally reserved for the firstborn (Deuteronomy 21:15-17). It seems Jacob never had enough!


Competition for finite resources is not uncommon in healthcare. Anxiety about finding clean linens or having enough support staff has given way to concerns about PPE, ventilators, and trained personnel in the face of a pandemic.


Esau hated Jacob so much for extorting his birthright and then cheating him out of his blessing that he planned to kill him. His mother wanted to ensure Jacob's safety, so she prompted Isaac to send him to Paddan-Aram (Genesis 28:2) to find a wife. He blessed Jacob as he departed. En route, God appeared to Jacob in a dream. He promised Jacob his presence and protection before there is any evidence that Jacob's grasping, deceitful heart had changed (Genesis 27:41, 28:17).


Jacob met his uncle Laban in Paddan-Aram and agreed to work for him. Although the cheater is tricked, deceived, and exploited by Laban, Jacob doesn't retaliate. Eventually, he heard the word of the Lord to return to the land of his fathers. Jacob, who had entered that land with only his staff, departed with a large family and much livestock (Genesis 31:17-18).


Jacob anticipated a violent reunion with his brother, Esau. He sent an extravagant gift to appease his brother, to which Esau responded, "I have enough, keep what you have for yourself." But Jacob insisted, "Please take this gift I have brought you, for God has been very gracious to me. I have more than enough" (Genesis 33:11, NIV). And because Jacob insisted, Esau finally accepted the gift. Jacob had found enough (kol: all, the whole, everything; Strong's Concordance with Hebrew and Greek lexicon, n.d.).


Jacob, once a grasping swindler, had become a man who insisted on blessing his brother. Because Laban's household worshipped other gods, it is unlikely this family helped him in this transformation (Genesis 31:19). Yet, on his journey to Paddan-Aram, even before Jacob's heart had changed, God promised to be with him. Twenty years later, he acknowledged God's presence, telling his wives that God had been with him and not allowed their father to harm him, despite his maltreatment of Jacob during that time. Jacob attributed the growth of his family and his increase in wealth to the favor of God under harsh, unpredictable conditions.


Jacob confessed being "unworthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and faithfulness" that God had shown him (Genesis 32:10, ESV). His humble recognition of his unworthiness in the light of God's mercy and kindness made all the difference in his heart. It changed him into a man through whom "in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed" (Genesis 28:14, NASB).


Strong's Concordance with Hebrew and Greek Lexicon. (n.d.). Strong's #3605: kol.




* What aspects of Jacob's story speak to the conditions in which we practice nursing today?


* What characteristics of God bring the peaceful assurance we need in times of great need and limited resources? What promises in Scripture steady our minds so we can face the unknown?


* How can nurses be channels of blessing during times of widespread uncertainty?