This is the continuing saga of God working on Jacob to trust in him. So far, he hasn’t exhibited much trust and his fleeing from Laban indicates just how little trust he has in God. Jacob finally admits his fears when he answers Laban, "Because I was afraid, for I thought that you would take your daughters from me by force” (Gen 31:31). What kind of guy has a fear that his father-in-law would take his daughters back if he told him the Lord had instructed him to go back home? That’s almost paranoid. However what Laban says may have indicated that Jacob wasn’t paranoid. He indicated that the women, children, and even the flocks all belonged to him (Gen 31:43). Laban is a scary dude!
However, let’s back up and see what could have happened if Jacob had not been afraid and he let Laban know he was going home with all of his wives, kids, and flocks. If Laban is as bad a guy as we suspect, he may have been really upset and would have tried to kill Jacob. However, when he was upset because Jacob left unannounced, the Lord intervened, “But God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream by night and said to him, ‘Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad’” (Gen 31:24). If Jacob had really trusted God, I’m sure the Lord would have spoken to Laban just as he did, and they would have had a great send-off just like Laban said he would have done. Jacob would have probably saved a lot of heartache for both parties if he trusted the Lord sooner. He probably wouldn’t have had to deal with Rachel stealing the household gods either.
Jacob now approaches Esau with fear, but his first response is to ask the Lord for help (Gen 32:9-12). What a difference between his flight from Laban and his pray when he originally bargained with God when he left home. He is actually asking for help as well as expressing some thanksgiving for the bounty that God has provided him. He is still fearful, but he is now looking to God for help after seen his deliverance from Laban.We can all overcome fear or deal with it in positive ways when we trust the Lord. If we are walking with the Lord we can be sure he will care for us. We can always turn to him with prayers of thanksgiving and supplication and know his peace (Phil 4:6-7).