Read Genesis 32:1-32.
Jacob was afraid. The entire reason he had fled to his uncle Laban those many years ago was to escape his brother, Esau, who had threatened his life (see Genesis 27:41-45). Now he was on his way back home with no assurance that Esau’s feelings toward him had changed. So, he tried to buy his brother off. He separated his flocks and herds and counted out a substantial gift for Esau. “For he thought, ‘I will pacify him with these gifts I am sending on ahead; later, when I see him, perhaps he will receive me’” (Genesis 32:20). It was a smart plan, but it was unnecessary. God was with Jacob and was watching over him as He had promised (see Genesis 28:15). No evil thing would come upon him without the Lord’s say-so.
Of course, Jacob didn’t understand that. He let his fears and worries overtake him. But then, in the midst of his trepidation, when he was all by himself at night on the bank of the Jabbok River, the Lord appeared. You may have heard this passage preached before, and you may have heard that Jacob wrestled with God. But that’s not quite right. The text says the Lord wrestled with Jacob. God showed up so that He might wrestle with Jacob, rather than the other way around.
While Jacob did ask for blessing during the struggle, in His grace, God did not grant it until Jacob surrendered. God initiated this meeting to deliver Jacob from his willfulness and anxiety. He wrestled with Jacob to bring him to the point of surrender, that he might rest and trust in His promises.
God will wrestle with His beloved children until they surrender. He may be wrestling with you right now. When you and I persist in our stubbornness, when you and I persist in our disobedience, when you and I persist in going our own way, God does not give up and say, “Oh, what can I do? I can’t get her attention. I can’t get him to listen. I give up.” He chooses instead to wrestle with us so that we might surrender to His good and perfect will.
There can be no real blessing without utter surrender. There can be no true success without genuine submission. There can be no actual victory without relinquishing control. There can be no effectiveness for God without yielding. I promise you this: Your blessing, and possibly your life, is dependent on your losing and God winning.
Prayer: Father, thank You that You wrestle with me to bring me peace that transcends understanding. You challenge me to lay down my burdens and cast my cares on You because You love me and are with me. Help me to trust You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
“So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak” (Genesis 32:24).
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