After wrestling with God Jacob is a broken man, physically and in spirit. And yet,  he’s exactly where God can use him.

Today’s Reading: Genesis 32:-34:31 (additional reading Psalm 14:1-7 and Proverbs 3:19-20)

Key Verse: “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.” Genesis 32:28

Bad news hits us hard! When we open that unexpected letter, receive those test results from the doctor, when the phone rings or there is a hard knock on the front door. Bad news stops us in our tracks. 

Genesis 32:6 says “When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, “We went to your brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.”. 

Jacob knows that his brother Esau is out for revenge. He can’t go back to Uncle Laban. He can’t go forward to Esau. He’s caught between a rock and a hard place. He seems to be stuck in a place just short of his promise.

By crossing the Jabbok Jacob was going to be entering into Esau’s territory, but God saw something even more significant than that. By crossing the Jabbok Jacob would be entering the land that God has sworn to give to Abraham’s descendants — the promised land.

Have you ever felt stuck? Maybe even spiritually? Have you ever felt so close to God’s promise for you that you can almost reach out and touch it, yet even that short distance is too far away? So close and yet so far. Have you been in a situation where it doesn’t matter what you chose, it seems like something bad would happen. This is where we find Jacob.

After sending all his possessing and family across the river, surely he doesn’t need a third opponent! He is alone. He has done all that he can think to do, even pray. God answers his prayer with a wrestling match. Have you ever noticed that God does not always answer our prayers in the way we expect? Jacob sees a shadowy figure sneaking up behind him. He’s not sure who it is. His brother Esau? A local thief? How often in the darkness do we fail to recognize God at work in our lives? But as the light of dawn began to reveal the truth Jacob realized who he was wrestling with.

There is no fight left in Jacob, but he holds on to God for all he’s worth. And though God tells Jacob to let go, Jacob can’t. Jacob grabs hold and asks for his most basic need – a blessing.

All of us have wrestled with God at times as we struggle to do things in our way. We’ve wrestled with God over problems. We’ve wrestled with God over his call on our lives and sometimes we’ve wrestled with God because we need an answer.

After wrestling with God Jacob is a broken man, physically and in spirit. And yet,  he’s exactly where God can use him. Likewise, when we are broken, we’re also right where God can use us. Psalm 51:17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

Reflection

  • Do you feel stuck?
  • How can you recognize God in the darkness of your situation?
  • Do you need to make some time to be alone with God?

Prayer

Father, Thank You that you are at work even when we don’t recognize it. Thank You that you are moving us into a place of promise and of blessing. Help us to come to You with a broken and contrite heart that You may use us for your glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

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