What are you wrestling for?
April 30, 2021, 1:10 PM

“During the night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two slave women, and his eleven sons, and crossed the ford of Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, along with all his possessions. Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he could not defeat him, he struck Jacob’s hip socket as they wrestled and dislocated his hip. Then he said to Jacob, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” “What is your name?” the man asked. “Jacob,” he replied. “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” he said. “It will be Israel because you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he answered, “Why do you ask my name?” And he blessed him there. Jacob then named the place Peniel, “For I have seen God face to face,” he said, “yet my life has been spared.” The sun shone on him as he passed by Penuel — limping because of his hip.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭32:22-31‬ ‭

This encounter Jacob had with God is one of my favorite moments recorded in Scripture. A lot of us have wrestled with God. Some of us wrestled with God before we considered a relationship with Him. Others of us have wrestled even after spending years walking with God.  I hope you know that it is completely okay to wrestle with God about life. 

In those seasons where I have been the one wrestling I have learned that wrestling with God is not a sign of lack of trust. When I wrestle with God, I am met with grace. That sounds pretty crazy, right? How could wrestling with God lead to an encounter with grace? This is what Jacob ended up discovering in his wrestling. Jacob’s story was wild and crazy when he got to the place where he wrestled with God. 

Jacob was involved in lying, stealing, family drama, and so much more. Jacob found a way to steal his brother Esau’s family blessing from their father. Their father was blind, so Jacob tricked his father into giving him the blessing that was due Esau (Genesis 26-27). Jacob realized quickly that his shady move was wrong and damaged his relationship with his brother. Jacob fled and had been on the run for a good while, but now, there was about to be a family reunion. 

Jacob was terrified at the idea of seeing his brother, and rightfully so! They did not part on good terms. The night before reuniting with Esau, Jacob found himself in a wrestling match. Jacob’s opponent was God, so talk about a fight. Jacob tried to go toe to toe with God and, not so surprising, he did not prevail. As a finishing move, God touched Jacob’s hip socket and knocked it out of place. But, Jacob still would not let go. Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me” (v. 26). God gave Jacob a blessing, but probably not what he expected: a new name. Jacob was given the new name Israel. 

There was so much beauty in this moment for Jacob. His name was probably well-known, but not for good reasons. There is so much power in a name because every time someone hears it, they immediately have thoughts associated with it. For some of us, we might not like our name because of what we associate with it. For the man formerly known as Jacob, he was able to free himself from all association with that name in order to embrace the new name God had given him. 

That same beauty is available for you and me today! Though we might not undergo the entire process of a name change, when we begin to walk with Jesus, He removes all association with our former self; in fact, you are a new creation altogether (2 Corinthians 5:17).

My favorite thought about this moment for Jacob was the fact that there is no evidence that he was ever healed after wrestling with God. You would think a loving God would have healed him after knocking his hip out. For me, I get the feeling that with every awkward step, Jacob did not think about the pain, but rather he thought about his encounter with grace. 

Grace changes everything about us: the way we talk, think, love, and even walk. I hope we all see the beauty in wrestling with grace because we are never the same! Have you ever wrestled with God? What was your goal? Consider that your wrestling is not just for an answer, but rather an encounter with grace.

Prayer: Father God, thank you for grace and grace and even more grace. How undeserved I am for the endless grace You are willing to give to me. I thank You for making a way so that my past does not forever define me. Lord You give me a new name and a new life in You. Let me find deeper trust and grace in my wrestling with You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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