Genesis 32-34: Wrestling with God

I have always enjoyed the story of Jacob wrestling with God in Genesis 32:22-32. It’s an odd story, but one that has a wonderful application in life.

Jacob, like his father and grandfather has not exactly been the most courageous guy. Up until this time he has done a lot of sneaking around and running away. In Genesis 32, Jacob comes upon his most serious crisis, he must face his brother Esau, whom he hasn’t seen since cheating him out of his future and running off. He is rightfully apprehensive.

He divides his household in two and spends the night alone with his thoughts, but he was not alone for long. God appears in the night and physically wrestles with Jacob until morning. And Jacob holds his own! God then changes his name to Israel and says ,”Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and men and have prevailed (v. 28).”

As I read this story today, I am reminded that God comes to strengthen us in the most unusual ways. For whatever reason, this is what Jacob needed in order to continue on and face Esau. It is not likely that we will have a similar experience, but there are many times when God reaches into our lives and does something unexpected to bring about a positive change in us. He may cause us to lose our job so that we might learn to trust in Him rather than ourselves. He may allow us to get sick so that our faith may grow. This is what James spoke of in the opening of his letter:

[2] Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, [3] for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. [4] And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
(James 1:2-4 ESV)

God uses trials of various kinds to help us wrestle with our faith and our life so that we may be found complete in Him. When we embrace what God puts before us, we are able to prevail in His strength and continue on in perseverance.

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