09.20.17 | by Brad Lotz | by Alyson Jones
Is your heart in a wrestling match today?
Struggling with disbelief? You know what you want to believe, but you can’t allow yourself. Just a time of drought in your faith? Does the Lord seem silent? You may fear for the future – lacking peace with God’s plan for your life. Your hands are open to what God wants for you, but you don’t feel any direction from Him.
You are being pulled into isolation, loneliness – out into new waters on your own. You may be hurting – you’ve experienced loss, health issues, or broken relationships. You may be in a quiet battle of addiction – you can feel the Lord pulling your Band-Aid away, but you fear a life without it. You realize your core of emptiness has been caused by daily exhaustion, pain, and powerlessness.
Defeated by frustration, confusion, and pain, you cry out, “God, I need something from you. I need to know what is going on in my life. Show me what to do!”
Like Jacob, you cry out, “Lord, bless me!” (Genesis 32:26)
Jacob is furious at God. The birthright didn’t bring him the success he wanted. Jacob deceived his own father, with the help of his mother. He ended up running away from his family to another country. Jacob was on his way home, ready to see his brother, Esau, who vowed to kill him.
In Hebrew, Jacob means “deceiver” and “heel grasper.” He lived out his name, and this left him in the middle of a deadly crisis. Jacob is feeling sorry for himself, fearful, and simmering in his anxiety over Esau and his approaching slaughter. The Bible tells us that he prayed and asked God to help him. God didn’t reiterate his promises with comforting words, a vision or dream like He had before.
God addressed Jacob’s fear by wrestling him through the night. (Genesis 32:22-26)
Like Mayweather and McGregor, Jacob suits up for ten rounds. Jacob needed something, and he would not give up or let go this time.
In the final round, God “touched Jacob’s hip socket and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him.” (Genesis 32:25) Jacob, the heel grabber, is now on his stomach desperately gripping the heel of the Lord, seemingly defeated.
God asked him, “What is your name?” And he said Jacob. (Genesis 32:27)
C’mon, He’s God…He knew his name was Jacob. In this moment, that question was about something deeper. God forced Jacob to take a hard look at his true identity.
God replied, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men, and have overcome.” (Genesis 32:28) Most importantly, after the struggle we read that God “blessed him there.” (Genesis 32:29b)
Jacob left the wrestling match with a new identity, a fresh vision of God, and a transformed heart. From then on, “limping because of his hip” (Genesis 32:31), Jacob is reminded of the wrestling match that changed his life forever.
We must remember, God is often the initiator. God, in His love, will visit us at a crossroad.
In times of struggle, it’s easy to point the blame on circumstances, other people, or even the enemy. When tension arises in life, God isn’t the one we imagine putting up a fight. We must remember, God doesn’t desire to become an opponent or leave us helpless during battles. He wants to get His perfect hands into the mess of our lives and transform us for His glory and our good. God is far more concerned with eternal holiness than our temporary happiness.
Not once in the Holy Bible does God communicate that things are going to be easy. (Romans 8:18, James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 1:6-7 and Matthew 7:24-27.) God promises that the floods will come, and the wind will beat on the house.
As Daniel explained on Sunday, “God works in ways we don’t think He should, but His hands are making all things good.”
In life, God forces us to take a hard look at our hearts and ask, “What is my name?”
He knows our name, yet He asks. When our name falls outside of a child of His – He wrestles to have us.
In this moment of one versus one, God begins to paint a picture of Himself. While struggling, we discover His persistency, gentleness, and patience. We discover God Himself, and it is the sweetest gift we could receive. We discover His love that meets us in darkness and longs to change our name.
He brings us to a point of surrender, and it’s there we gain His strength.
This is the only fight in your life when surrender isn’t counted as loss, but your greatest gain.
Like Jacob, there are times when it feels like God is hesitant to bless us. But in our darkest trials and troubles – we are never without God’s presence. God calls us to wrestle with Him because He knows the magnitude of blessing after the match. God does not delight in wrestling, but He delights in the transformation that comes from it.
As believers in Christ, we will struggle with Him through the loneliness of night, but by daybreak His blessing will come.
God is gracious to wrestle with us.
From the Fall of Man in Genesis 3, we have been eternally separated from the Creator, every interaction following that moment is a divine example of grace. He sent Christ to come and die on our behalf, so we could have the opportunity to wrestle with Him and come to know the fullness of joy in Christ – He loves us that much.
As we continue through Genesis into Exodus, join us on Sunday for Redemption Through History! Catch up on sermons here.