By Faith Wilson
Jacob’s life didn’t unfold as he had hoped.
In Genesis 32 he is about to reach the victorious culmination of his story–the moment when he reunites in forgiveness with his brother. His moment of honor, acceptance and recognition had finally come. All would be well again. Instead, he is caught by disaster. Jacob is stripped of all the wealth he has amassed for himself over the course of his life. Humiliated, he stands alone, emptied out under the wide open sky.
Then he wrestles. It’s not a five minute, short lived tussle. No, he locks horns with a determined opponent through the cold night until the sun creeps over the mountain peaks and a new day breaks over the desert. What raced through Jacob’s mind as he grappled with his mysterious adversary? Did he wonder why this was happening to him? Did he not consider the possible ramifications for completely exhausting himself in conflict with an unknown man?
Did he ever ask, “Why am I doing this?”
During this challenge God clenches onto his leg and rips his hip out of its socket. Pain sears through his body. Crippled in agony and crumpled in the dust, Jacob should have surrendered. Who would blame him for limping away, raising a clenched fist at the stars and shouting at God, “How dare you claim to be gracious and loving?” Instead Jacob does the unthinkable–he demands a blessing. With relentless determination, he clings to the hope of good in the midst of tragedy.
In our lowest and darkest moments, a Voice is heard, “Bring it on. Let’s see what you’re made out of.”
Some tiptoe away from God’s invitations to wrestle. It is natural to shrink away. So much easier to watch the fight from the bleachers rather than climb into the ring. Do you ever refuse to ask hard questions for fear you won’t like the answers? Where do you stand? Are you willing to engage in an all-out, full contact struggle in the hope that it may result in blessing?
Be assured that after you have wrestled with God, you will limp away, forever broken. Your spirit will be surrendered to the one with whom you have wrestled. Mysteriously, that is precisely where the adventure begins.
“We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”
–II Corinthians 4:7-11