Wrestling With God
Text: Genesis 30-32
Have you ever been in a situation where you feel trapped? You can't go back, and if you go forward, there are just as many unknowns and or dangers. Jacob found himself in such a situation. He had worked for many years and been cheated 10 times by his employer-his father-in-law. He decide to leave and go back to the land of his father. Unknown to him, one of his wives ( his favorite) had stolen his father-in-law's idols. When the father-in-law came after him for them, he innocently denied having them. So, he was faced with an angry man and dealing with the situation of danger and deception. Even though the idols were never found (only because Rachel was so good at lying!) there had to have been an element of fear involved, not to mention the very fact that false gods were being hidden in his camp. There was a spiritual danger and battle going on that he knew nothing about. This seems to me a good lesson on listening to warning signs...especially when we know we are innocent. Perhaps when we are accused of wrong-doing it is really a warning of what is going on in our "camp" without our knowledge! The Bible tells us that what is done in the dark will be brought to light... and I suspect many times it's in ways we would not expect.
Jacob continued on his journey back "home" and we see several incidents of his fear. At one point, he had sent everyone on ahead of him ( to face what he feared) and found himself alone. I wonder how many times we do this same thing--send others to the very thing or person we are afraid of, to test the waters. Have you ever had someone make a call for you because you aren't that sure of the outcome? Have you ever asked how some one else is doing rather than find out for yourself? I think if we are honest, we all have to admit to seeing the same coward in us that we see in Jacob.
"Then Jacob was left alone, a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when he saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob's hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. And He said, ,'Let me go, for the day breaks.'
"But he said, 'I will not let You go until You bless me!'
I never really understood this passage completely before, or at least had never applied it personally until now. Because I live with a condition with chronic pain, I find a lot of time when I am awake most of the night and feeling very alone. I have praised God through the last few years, because these times have also become times when He has spoken the clearest to me. I have a feeling that it was much the same for Jacob that night. He was alone and afraid.. in emotional pain. He had no idea what his future held, and he knew he could not go back to his father-in-law's land. He had no choice but to continue on his way. So, what is the point of this time of wrestling with God and the pain he was inflicted with for the rest of his life?
Two of the lessons we can get from this part of Jacob's story:
1. When it is time for us to move, discomfort intensifies.
This can be not only a warning sign for us to get ready, but also an invitation for us to rely completely on Him. God prepares the way for us, but that isn't going to always mean it will be an easy stroll. Like Paul, we most likely need a "thorn in the flesh." May we come to the point, that like Paul, we can say:
"To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 )
This is a time for us to be aware of satan's attempts to discourage us. It seems strange that God would inflict pain- wouldn't that discourage us? We have a choice- we can take what comes to us from our times of wrestling with Him as a means of drawing closer to Him, or we can use it as an excuse to quit. Once again, it all comes back to our choices! Jacob chose the better way-- he walked with a limp for the rest of his life, but each step he took was a reminder of the time he had met God face to face. What is your reminder? As it turns out, one of mine is the day I began many years of intense pain. I suspect we all have times of encounters with God that we have seen as something else... and without a reminder of the incident, we would never figure it out. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying God hurts us to get our attention... but I am saying that when we wrestle with Him, we will come away changed. We can never be the same, physically emotionally nor spiritually. I challenge you to look back on your life and changes that have occurred. See if you can see at those times a point when you wrestled with God.
2. Our will must be broken in order for us to accomplish God's will. When He breaks our will, He replaces it with His and gives us another chance.
Like Jacob, we can be heading somewhere in order to escape one bad situation, yet right into another one. Whether it is because of our own bad choices, or just a set of bad circumstances, it is still important that our move is in God's will. We can be heading the right way with all the wrong motives, and we will not be successful. Because God loves us so much, He will do whatever it takes to give us the chance to chose His will over our own. This may mean we will suffer pain or loss.....but nothing can compare to the riches of being in His will! Nothing we go through will be in vain as long as we are seeking His will. Everything He takes us through is an opportunity to go deeper into a relationship with Him.
Can we come away from a wrestling match with God knowing we continued to wrestle until we received our blessing? Or did we just give up?
Father, help us learn to submit to Your will. Forgive us when we are stubborn and seek our own way.Open our eyes, hearts and minds to see Your move in our lives. May we see every opportunity you give us to come into a deeper relationship with you. May we always praise You for the reminds You give us of our times of wrestling with You. We praise You that we will never be the same because we have had an encounter with You! Today may we see our discomfort as Your will for us to move into a new dimension of faith and faithfulness. As our discomfort increases, help us be aware of Your timing for us to move. We praise You that You give us what we need to overcome the enemy's attempts to discourage and even destroy us. Break our wills where they need to be broken, and replace them with Your perfect will. We love You and praise You for Your love and care for us, for Your grace and mercy, and for the promise of our home in heaven with You. We look forward to that reunion!
In Jesus' name, Amen.
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