Genesis 32:24-28- “And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, ‘Let me go, for the day has broken.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’ And he said to him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’ Then he said, ‘Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.’”
If you go back and read the chapters leading up to this story, you’ll understand that Jacob was weary. His mind, his body, and his spirit… I’m sure were worn out. He’d been done wrong by his wife’s family, and he was afraid of his own.
(Genesis 31:4-7- So Jacob… said…, “I see that your father does not regard me with favor as he did before. But the God of my father has been with me. You know that I have served your father with all my strength, yet your father has cheated me… But God did not permit him to harm me.”)
(Genesis 32:6-11- And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and he is coming to meet you, and there are 400 men with him…” Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed… …. And Jacob said, “Oh, God,… please deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him, that he may come and attack me…”)
In life crises such as these, I’m sure it would’ve caused him mental exhaustion, anxiety, and deep sorrow. Still, he pressed on. And then when he was staring God in the face, he continued to strive some more. He didn’t wallow in his situation. He didn’t take residence in his state of fear. He didn’t make a place for distress to feel at home. No. He wrestled through the night. He wasn’t going to let go – He wasn’t going to give up – until God blessed him.
Have you ever felt like you’ve been praying about the same situation for an extremely long time? Weeks, months, even years go by and you’re still asking God to move on your behalf? Whispering prayers throughout the day; calling out to Him in the evening. Kind of like you’re “wrestling” with Him?
I have. And I’m sure I’m not the only one.
My husband and his family prayed for my father-in-law’s salvation for over 13 years. Can you imagine the nights it must have started feeling like an impossible feat? All their efforts and time; all those wishes and hopes; I’m sure they were starting to seem as nothing more. Still, they didn’t give up. They continued to “wrestle.”
I only met my father-in-law one time before he gave his life to the Lord. That’s right. After 13 years of no desire to change, one night my father-in-law (to be) couldn’t sleep. As soon as the sun came up that next morning, he made his way to a church and within mere minutes he was crying tears of joy, as he’d made up his mind to follow Jesus.
All those weary moments vanished from memory for my husband and his family. The nights that left my mother-in-law exhausted from wrestling loneliness, concern, and unanswered questions… well, they no longer existed. They wouldn’t give up – they wouldn’t let go – until they got their blessing.
And they did.
Sometimes, I believe we let go just a little too soon. We quit right before the progress is made. Moments before the answer comes, we turn and walk the other way. We unknowingly put time limits and stipulations on the way God should move, and when those things don’t seem possible anymore, we convince ourselves that He’s already said “No.” But, His ways are higher than ours and He is not restricted by time. So while He’s working… sometimes, we must wrestle. We have to endure to the end… of every situation. While He is more than capable of doing anything simply by speaking the command, He knows we will benefit most by being a little more involved. Spiritual blessing, a lot of times, must be preceded by physical effort. We must press on and keep fighting. That’s how we prevail. That’s when we receive blessing.
Prayer: Jesus, thank You for bringing so much good out of bad situations. Thank You for teaching me about patience and endurance… and for allowing opportunities to come my way that strengthen my faith and grow my trust in You. I know that You are for me and desire only good things for me, so in times where I must “wrestle,” help me remember there is always a reason and a blessing on the other side. I love You, Lord. Continue to build my endurance. In Your name I pray this. Amen.