Lately I have been struggling in my Christian walk. During my time away on vacation I was captured by a verse from Genesis chapter 32:24, "So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.'' According to the text, the so-called "man" with whom Jacob wrestled was God Himself which Jacob came to realize after his struggle. (Genesis 32:30) A question that popped into my mind was, how can one wrestle with God without being totally destroyed? Yes, Jacob was left with a dislocated hip, so he did not come away unscathed. (Genesis 32:31-32) However, God also gave Jacob a new name, "Israel" which means he who struggles with God. (Genesis 32:28a) Moreover, the passage tells us that Jacob struggled with not only God but also men and was an overcomer. (Genesis 32:28b) I wondered what did it mean that Jacob was an overcomer? Jacob in his struggles was clear that he would not release the individual whom he was struggling with until the man blessed him.(Genesis 32:26) In a way I can identify with Jacob. I sometimes get focused on the struggles in life and feel like I'm "wrestling with God" to try and understand what's happening amidst the daily challenges I experience. Sometimes I feel like the Christian life is just too hard. But deep in my spirit I know that I will not let Jesus go until I receive that ultimate blessing, the eternal life He has promised. Please don't misunderstand, I receive daily grace from God just in the fact that I am alive and well. But my ultimate reward lies with seeing the Lord face to face and dwelling with Him forever. The Lord has also promised that like Jacob we will receive a new name. (Revelation 2:17) I don't know what that new name will be but more than that I long for the day when my Lord says, "Well done good and faithful servant. You have wrestled on this earth with the things of God that were unknown or not understood. You have wrestled with the sins of men that have come against you and you have overcome." The Lord has promised to all who overcome they will receive a crown of life. (James 1:12) The truth is the only way I can declare victory is because of Jesus. I can "wrestle with God" and not be totally destroyed because Jesus has opened the way to the Father's throne of grace. Jesus has walked the road before me. He wrestled with men in His ministry on earth and struggled emotionally with the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane and ultimately on the cross. Like Jacob, Jesus was literally wounded in His struggle but He overcame in His resurrection! Now Jesus reigns with the Father and has many Names by which we have come to know Him and describe His glory (Savior, Redeemer, Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, etc. and the list goes on and on!) Even though I may struggle on any given day, I know that I do not do so in vain. For as James tells us, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4)
Thanks be to God!