I remember when I told my pastors that I had [finally] accepted God’s call to the ministry. With a smile, I told them that God had wrestled with me, just like He had wrestled with Jacob. I thought I had made a clever biblical joke/reference, but as I look back now, I see that there was actually a lot of truth to my comment…more than I knew at the time.
Open your bibles to Genesis 32:22-32 (NASB is displayed below):
Now he arose that same night and took his two wives and his two maids and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream. And he sent across whatever he had. Then Jacob was left alone, and a Man wrestled with him until daybreak. When He saw that He had not prevailed against him, He touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while He wrestled with him. Then He said, “Let Me go, for the dawn is breaking.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me.” So He said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him and said, “Please tell me Your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask My name?” And he blessed him there. So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved.” Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed over Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh. Therefore, to this day the sons of Israel do not eat the sinew of the hip which is on the socket of the thigh, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew of the hip.
As Jacob (son of Isaac, the son of Abraham) and his family were en route to the land of his brother Esau, Jacob found himself literally wrestling with some unknown Man… and Jacob was not quitting! He kept fighting- like he was fighting for his life- and the unknown Man continued to fight back. When the Man saw that Jacob was not giving up, He touched Jacob’s hip and dislocated it, causing Jacob to feel pain and the desire to stop fighting… but Jacob didn’t stop. While Jacob did not know specifically who this unknown Man was, he made the statement that he would not stop fighting until the Man blessed him.
What type of faith that must have been!
Here is Jacob, in an excruciating amount of pain, and probably tired beyond words, but he continues to fight for his life and refuses to let go until he is blessed by this unknown Man.
Have you ever had to fight for your life? No, not your physical life; I mean your spiritual and mental life.
Have you ever had to fight for the ability to live another day, to fight another battle?
Have you ever had to fight to overcome the depression that tried to take you out?
Have you ever had to fight to overcome the addiction that consumed you?
Have you ever had to fight to provide for your family?
Have you ever had to fight to overcome gossip and negative thoughts?
Have you ever had to fight for your sanity?
Beloved, have you ever had to fight?
We should all be like Jacob.
As you may now know, the Man that Jacob wrestled with was God. For the first time in his life, Jacob was face to face with God and had to fight/work for his blessing. Prior to this, Jacob had gotten by with cunning deceit and God’s favor (go back to the previous chapters to read about the life of Jacob)…but now he had to put in some work! While it is not written here, I can only deduce that somewhere during this wrestling match, Jacob realized that he was wrestling God or an angel of God because he asked for a blessing. When Jacob said that he would not let go until he was blessed, he was saying that even though the exhaustion was great and the pain was greater, he was not quitting. Regardless of who this Man was specifically, Jacob knew that a blessing waited for him if he could just endure until daybreak. Jacob fought with a determination that continues to amaze me to this day.
He could not and would not quit.
No pain was too great to turn away from God.
He knew a blessing was waiting for him at the end of the pain.
Jacob was enduring purposed pain.
In verse 28, God told Jacob that He was changing his name and gave him a new name of Israel (Hebrew, “he contends with God”). And then in verse 29 we see that God blesses Jacob.
Beloved, what if I told you that after we encounter God, we come out forever changed? What if I told you that we also come out with a new name? And, what if I told you that we will come out with a blessing?
But what if I told you that (which I am…and so is Genesis), and then added that there will always be a sign of our change?
Like maybe a limp…
Go back to verse 25 and then to verse 31.
God touched Jacob in the socket of his hip, dislocating it, and when they had finished wrestling, Jacob walked away with a limp that he had until his death.
He had seen God.
He had wrestled with God.
He had lived to tell about it.
He had been given a new name by God Himself.
He had been changed!
And he had been left with a limp.
Ok, that might seem really messed up but look at it this way: whenever someone saw Jacob’s limp and asked about it, Jacob could tell them of how he had wrestled with God and did not let go until He blessed him.
So, Beloved, what is your limp? We have all, undoubtedly, wrestled with God at some point of our Christian walk (if not yet, just keep living), and He has left us something to show for the match.
Maybe your limp is mental… like surviving negative/crippling thoughts….
Maybe your limp is physical… like surviving cancer….
Maybe your limp is emotional… like surviving depression…
When I wrestled with God, He [figuratively] touched my eyes and now I see differently. I don’t see the negativity in the world that I used to; I now see potential and hope where I used to see despair. I see God in all that is around me and I work diligently to help others see the same thing.
The incident that caused my limp was incredibly painful and I would never wish it on anyone else. But when you see my limp, that is, my new outlook on life, it does cause you to ask what prompted the change… and when you ask, I will tell you about how I wrestled with God and would not let go until He blessed me.
Whatever your limp may be, it is a sign to the world and a story of how you have overcome. While the situation that caused the limp may be negative or undesirable, the resulting limp is positive and a testament to our God.
We all have one.
So, Beloved, what’s your limp?