Remember the story of Jacob?
Jacob son of Issac and Rebekah who was born holding onto his brother’s heel. The grandson of Abraham who stole not only his brother’s birthright but also his blessing.
I imagine most of us are like Jacob. No we may not have manipulated our brother and stolen our father’s blessing and the birthright. But aren’t we like him in many ways? Wanting to make our own way. Wanting to be first. Wanting to be successful in our own efforts despite knowing what God has promised. The promise that He will guide us.
Time and again Jacob received a promise from God.
That night the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.” – Genesis 26: 24
Yet he still gave into fear. Fleeing from the consequences of his mistakes with his brother. How often do we do the same?
Fear won again even after Jacob obeyed God and began the return journey to his home. Fear gripped him when messengers sent word that Essau and four hundred men were coming to meet them. He divided up his possessions and wives and sent them away.
Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” But he said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him and said, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And he blessed him there. So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved.” – Genesis 32: 24-30
Often I wonder if churches and Christians, especially here in the Bible belt, give the wrong impression.
Giving the impression that if we question anything about God then we do not have enough faith. That can only serve to push people inward. It doesn’t gently nudge them inward it shoves them inward. And consequently away from a trusting relationship with their creator.
Over the years I have learned it is okay to wrestle with God. Even through the knowing just as Jacob did when he said “But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’” – Genesis 32:12
He knew God’s promise. Knowing a truth in your head is one thing. Feeling it in your heart is another.
Perhaps it is only after we wrestle with God do we find that knowing in our hearts. When that truth seeps into our spirit we can release our fears. Maybe it is in the wrestling where we find the blessing. Where we find the freedom in the new name God has already given us. Maybe in the wrestling is where we learn to accept His grace. To accept the name ‘child of God.’ Perhaps there are those of us who need to wrestle through our faith first to be able to walk in our faith.
Do you ever wrestle with truths God is teaching you?