As kids, my brother, sister, and I would have wrestling matches. Many times, my parents had to stop them because one of us got angry or frustrated. In our family, all five of us are stubborn and giving up is rarely an option. In the Bible, Jacob reflects this stubbornness on an even greater level.
In Genesis 32, Jacob wrestles with the Lord. Literally. Now on this side of the Old Testament, that seems pretty stupid to me. This is the same God who parts the Red Sea, reveals His glory to Moses, makes a donkey speak, destroys Sodom and Gomorrah. I don't think I would willingly wrestle with Him. But as I studied this passage over the last few days, I realized that the last two years of my life have been a wrestling match with God. Here's what I learned from this passage:
1) The Lord ALLOWS us to wrestle with Him. He could stop it at any time. He isn't backed into a corner or on the ropes. He knowingly allows us to wrestle with Him. Verse 24 says, "Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the break of day." Jacob wrestled with the Lord all night. Man, to have witnessed that in the middle of the desert.
2) When we wrestle with the Lord, we will ALWAYS walk away changed. We never leave that match unscathed. It is a turning point where a decision is made one way or another. Will we follow the Lord? Verse 25 says, " Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him (Jacob), He (God) touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob's hip was out of joint as he wrestled with Him. Jacob refused to give up. He was stubborn and persistent and desperate. I almost wonder if the Lord allowed Jacob to wrestle with Him to see if he would hold on no matter what.
3) The results are ultimately for the Lord's glory and our good. Jacob refused to let go unless the Lord blessed him. Verse 28 says, " And He (the Lord) said, 'Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.'" Then, the Bible says that the Lord blessed Jacob. Because Jacob refused to give up, the Lord gained a man who became the father of Israel and gave him a new name and identity. Jacob meant "deceiver." Israel means "God's fighter" or "he struggles with God." The Lord took a man who cheated his brother of an inheritance and made him God's man, a tool, a beautiful picture of God's grace, and a blessing to generations to come. Jacob gained a blessing from the God he worshipped. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.
Ultimately, God is holy and we are human. We can never forget that distinction if we choose to wrestle with the Lord. Seek out the hard questions. Wrestle and talk to the Lord in the middle of tough times. Cling to Him. Refuse to let go until He blesses you. He's God, and He can handle all that. But NEVER make the mistake of thinking you will come out the victor against a holy God. He is in control. Because the Lord touched Jacob's hip, Jacob walked with a limp, possibly for the rest of his life. When we wrestle with God, we are never the same. It is a life-defining and altering moment.
Have you wrestled with the Lord? What did He teach you?