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).

Learn more in Dr. Michael Youssef’s sermon series Fear Deceives, Grace Frees: WATCH NOW

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About The Author

Dr. Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Even before he was born, it is clear that God had a vision for Michael Youssef. His mother was in poor health when she became pregnant with Michael, and because his life was in danger at the time of birth, the doctor recommended terminating the pregnancy. An abortion was scheduled. But God intervened and sent the family pastor to reassure them that God was involved in this pregnancy. He told them not to be afraid and that the child would be "born to serve the Lord." Michael's parents accepted the pastor's message as a message from God and obeyed. His mother gave birth, and lived to see him give his life to the Lord at the age of sixteen.

Believing that God had called him out of Egypt, Michael sought an exit visa in a time in which no university student was allowed to have a passport or leave the country. God intervened again, and miraculously he managed to acquire a visa. He immigrated to Australia, where he studied at Moore Theological College in Sydney, was ordained as a pastor, and met Elizabeth who became his wife.

The Youssefs came to America in 1977, and in 1978 Michael received a master's degree in theology at Fuller Theological Seminary in California. Then he earned a doctorate in social anthropology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Michael served nearly ten years in the Haggai Institute, traveling around the world more than 32 times, teaching courses in evangelism and leadership. He rose to the position of Managing Director at the age of 31 years. The family settled in Atlanta, and in 1984, Michael became a citizen of the United States, making his dream of many years come true.

He founded The Church of The Apostles in 1987 with fewer than 40 adults with the mission of "Equipping the Saints and Searching for the Lost". The church has since grown to be a congregation of over 3,000 people today. This church has driven the international ministry of Leading the Way. While it is heard by millions at home and abroad, behind every message preached through radio waves, is the heart of a pastor, willing to nurture and care for these people. Clearly God has uniquely equipped Dr. Youssef to speak to a global audience. The path he has taken has given him an understanding and firm grasp of the Scriptures that transcend cultures. He preaches, teaches and calls with a sincere, based on the authority of the inerrant, inspired Word of God. With his personal knowledge of the Holy Land, its history and culture, Dr. Michael Youssef transmits life to listeners all over the world.

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