How Wrestling with God Will Change You Forever
- Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Do you remember the story of Jacob and Esau? If you do, you will remember that Esau was favored by his dad and Jacob was favored by his mother. When their father Isaac was on his death bed, he asked Esau to kill some wild game for him with the promise that he would then bless his oldest son. While Esau was out hunting, Isaac’s wife Rebekah helped their younger son Jacob come up with a scheme to trick Isaac into blessing him instead. When Esau returned, Jacob had already received the blessing—which guaranteed him a double portion of inheritance. Esau was furious and vowed to kill him, so Jacob fled.
After years of living apart, Jacob decided to return to his home and hoped to make peace with his brother. One night on the journey, he sent everyone ahead of him while he stayed behind.
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 (Genesis 32:24-29).
I’ve always been curious about this passage, about how Jacob—now known as Israel—wrestled with God. I simply couldn’t understand what it meant.
For the last two years, I have been wrestling with God. I have wrestled night and day, asking for a fresh vision of who he is and what he wants for my life. I’ve had a particular situation that has caused me to lose many nights of sleep—nights spent wrestling with God in prayer. I’ve begged God to give me clarity because I know that God is the author of peace and not confusion. I’ve spent countless hours crying, seeking God’s face.
And I’ve finally reached a place of blessing—a place of peace where I know God has revealed himself to me, a place where I can walk forward in confidence knowing that he is in control.
As I began reading through my Bible this year, I came across this little verse tucked away right after Jacob’s wrestling match:
And he set up an altar there and called it “God, the God of Israel” (Genesis 33:20).
Do you see it? Right after Jacob—now known as Israel—wrestles with God, he built an altar and called it the “God of Israel.”
Still missing my point? Let me take you back to a few passages before the divine wrestling match.
Yahweh was standing there beside him, saying, “I am Yahweh, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac…” (Genesis 28:13).
Notice anything? Let’s try another one:
Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my grandfather Abraham, and God of my father, Isaac—O Lord, you told me, ‘Return to your own land and to your relatives.’ And you promised me, ‘I will treat you kindly' (Genesis 32:9).
How about now? Here’s yet another one:
If the God of my father, the God of Abraham, the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, certainly now you would have sent me off empty-handed… (Genesis 31:42).
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