July 15: God-Wrestler

Read Genesis 32:1-32

Jacob had been wrestling all his life. It was part of his dna. Even when he ran away to hide from his angry brother and start a new life, Jacob wrestled. Laban was his opponent in the land of Haran until the day he packed up his family and moved back home.

I imagine as he traveled, Jacob recounted his never-ending wrestling  match with his brother. His brother whom he hadn’t seen since stealing their father’s blessing and running away.

As Jacob approached home more than 20 years later, he hoped beyond hope for his brother’s mercy. Perhaps Jacob even found himself wrestling with his own thoughts as he neared that ever-familiar territory which was now his brother’s home.

Ever the wrestler, but a changed man as well, Jacob’s spirit was different now. He humbly approached Esau and asked for a chance to co-exist peacefully. As Jacob entered Esau’s domain, he humbly prepared to cry “uncle” with his brother and hope for Esau’s forgiveness.

Even still, Jacob wrestled.

God showed up in the night and wrestled with Jacob for hours. Then He gave him a new name and restored the hope He’d given to Jacob’s father’s father, Abraham. When day broke and the match was done, Jacob realized he had tangled with God Himself.

I don’t know why it happened like it did. Why did God see fit to let Jacob win? Why did they wrestle? But I do know this with all that I am: only God could take a contentious man like Jacob and turn him into a nation through whom all people would be blessed.

All that Jacob had been, all that he had done, God used to form him into Israel, the God-wrestler man. His struggles with Esau, his conflict with his father-in-law, even his wrestling match with God — He used every single element to give Jacob his new name.

There are pieces of me that leave me wondering about God’s work in my life for his glory. We all have faults that seem insurmountable. But God uses flawed people to build His kingdom.

Let’s take comfort in the story of Jacob, the God-wrestling man. Because if God can use a difficult person like Jacob to build a nation for Himself, he can use you and me for something great, too. And He will when we trust Him to truly be the Lord of our lives.


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