It’s a time of change again, isn’t it? Here we go, Jacob / Israel is called by God yet again to leave the place where he is and go. This time move to Bethel (house of God), live there, and make an alter to God.
So what does Jacob do? He gives instruction to all his household to take their foreign household gods and emblems representing these things and get rid of them. He tells them to purify themselves and prepare to leave. In response, God puts a fear of them in all the cities that they pass. No one pursues them, no one attacks them.
While at Bethel, God renews the promise He made with Abraham and Isaac with Jacob (yet again changing his name to Israel). Jacob gets that promised blessing, but it all comes at a time of loss and despair as well. Rebekah’s nurse Deborah dies on the way, then not long afterwards Rebekah dies in childbirth. Quite the contrast. Such an opposition of turmoil and joy. Personal blessing from God (what Jacob/Israel had specifically asked for when he wrestled with God), and a new son, at the loss of his beloved wife. Add to that, the death of his father.
I just can’t find the right word to describe it. Turmoil is about correct, but turmoil emphasizes trouble over blessing. Confusion deals with the contrasting feelings, but it implies being unsure, and in this case all is clear, but it is more conflicting. Conflicting is a good word, but it has too much of a feeling of conflict, and this is not about conflict. It’s about two opposing states of being residing clearly within the same experience. It leaves the man confounded but not confused, divided but still whole, overwhelmed but still at peace, frustrated but still full of joy. It is a time of both blessing and pain all clear and jumbled at the same time. I just can’t find the right word to describe it. It’s funny, with so many words in the English language, yet it is so incomplete in so many ways.