WRESTLING WITH GOD
Father God, it is truly in You I live and move, and have my being. Thank You and use me today for Your purposes.
Read Genesis 32:22-32
Jacob Wrestles With God
22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel,[a] because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
30 So Jacob called the place Peniel,[b] saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel,[c] and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectIf you could ask God for one thing right now, what would it be?
What a mysterious passage this is! If the wrestler is God, why did He struggle with Jacob all night, unable to overpower him? Why did God injure Jacob so severely that it is remembered ‘to this day’ (32)? Why did He have to ask Jacob to let Him go? Why was God fighting a man anyway? Jacob seems to recognize something of the nature of the wrestler, as he demands a blessing from Him, but then asks His name. Did he know who he was fighting, or not?
It is interesting that the name ‘Israel’, which God gave to Jacob and then became the name of the nation, means ‘he struggles with God’. Does this indicate that God approves of us wrestling and struggling with Him? Physically, the more a muscle is exercised, the stronger it becomes. Is this passage a challenge to exercise our spiritual muscles by wrestling with God?
Our trust in God is often a tension between what we know about God, and the questions and unresolved issues which we are struggling to understand. This can be painful, as Jacob discovered – but perhaps this story gives us hope.
Read Psalm 73, where Asaph struggles with his faith in light of what he sees in the world. What helps him get things into a godly perspective? Do you need to do some ‘wrestling’ with God?
Loving Father, excavate an emptiness in me that only You can fill. I yearn to be an effective servant for You.