God had predetermined before the two were born that the elder would serve the younger (Genesis 25:23). Jacob needed to learn to stop grabbing (his name means "Grabber" or "he grabs the heel"). He needed to learn to reign with God as a Prince (the meaning of "Israel").
In the meantime, we read in Genesis chapters 32 and 33 that Jacob heard of his brother coming to meet him.
Jacob was terrified. He schemed, he plotted, he did everything he could to minimize the upcoming damage and destruction which he projected would fall upon him, his wives, and his children.
In Genesis 32, we see Jacob begging God for help. He announces the following:
"9And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee: 10I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands. 11Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children. 12And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude." (Genesis 32:9-12)
Jacob pleads for God's help, and yet he still engineers, schemes, and micromanages as much possible to spare himself and his family from the worst. He still foresees the worst happening to him.
Where's the faith? Where's the trust?
Yet in spite of Jacob's fear, God does indeed come through for Jacob:
"1And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids. 2And he put the handmaids and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost. 3And he passed over before them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother. 4And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept." (Genesis 33:1-4)
This is the grace of God at work, and Jacob announces His goodness to Esau:
"Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee; because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough. And he urged him, and he took it." (Genesis 33:11)
Jacob recognized fully that God was gracious to Him. God indeed answered Jacob's prayer, even though He was fearful, even though He tried to "help God", if you will, to safeguard as many of his family members and his goods as possible.
This kind of goodness is so important to me. This revelation affirms that God's goodness will flow in our lives even when we are fearful, even when we are not sure what is going on in our lives, even when we despair and fear the worst.
This point reminds of another account, in which another one of God's Beloved faced what seemed like insurmountable odds.
"1And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul: there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines; and Saul shall despair of me, to seek me any more in any coast of Israel: so shall I escape out of his hand. 2And David arose, and he passed over with the six hundred men that were with him unto Achish, the son of Maoch, king of Gath." (1 Samuel 27:1-2)
This is the beloved, great king David. This is the forerunner for the Messiah, for Jesus was born from the line of David. In fact, Jesus had two claims to the royal throne of David through Mary and Joseph.
David was honored in the midst of his own brethren, and yet not only was he not fully crowned king, not only was he on the run, but he had pretty much given up on God's promise for him.
Yet God did not give up on His promise for David.
In fact, even though he lived with the Philistines, the mortal enemies of Israel for a time, the land that he acquired became part of the royal heritage of Israel!
"5And David said unto Achish, If I have now found grace in thine eyes, let them give me a place in some town in the country, that I may dwell there: for why should thy servant dwell in the royal city with thee? 6Then Achish gave him Ziklag that day: wherefore Ziklag pertaineth unto the kings of Judah unto this day." (1 Samuel 27: 5-6)
So, even though we have fears, even though we struggle to rest in God's promises, God still comes through for us.
In fact, even when we were still sinners, God sent His Son Jesus to die for us, to rise again from the dead, and to represent us at the Father's right hand forever more! (Romans 5:8)
He did this when we didn't care about Him. He was watching out for us -- for me -- even when I had no idea what was going on!