(Wednesday 16th October 2019 Issue)
Is there any reason you would want to wrestle with God? After all, this is the God who said; “I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11:10) If it involves a struggle of some effort, then it must be because you want -- whatever it is that warranted the struggle with God -- very badly.
It is true that God is a gracious and generous God. All that there is in the world belongs to Him. Besides, He gives freely when we ask. However, some things would have to be birthed through persistent prayer. When we never give up, it is a sign of desperation. It is something that we need at all cost.
Jacob, Esau’s twin brother -- both sons of Isaac -- had a chequered history. At his birth, he held firmly to the feet of his brother came along with him Esau, the eldest. This was quite a strange occurrence, but the oracle had said that the eldest would serve the youngest. As if that was not already a mouthful, Jacob duped his brother by trading his birthright for a bowl of soup. This earned him the title of deceiver. Esau swore to kill him, and his mother had to smuggle him out of his sight to his uncle in Haran.
Again at his uncle’s place he had to work fourteen years before he could marry the wife of his dreams. His first seven years earned him a wife that was imposed on him. In fact, his uncle was not gentle with him. Jacob struck a deal with his uncle but when it was overbearing he left unceremoniously. His life had been miserable. On his way back home - after he had a vision asking him to return to his hometown - he met with his twin brother whom he had swindled. He was scared to death that Esau would take his revenge. But it did not happen that way.
Jacob was now rich with livestock, but ripped to pieces by repeated unfortunate circumstances.
That night Jacob decided to dispatch his family along with his possessions across the Jobbok stream in order to be on his own. That night a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower Jacob, he touched the socket of his hip and it became wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, ‘Let me go, for it is daybreak.’ But Jacob replied, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’ ” (Genesis 32:22-26)
In life, we tend to take for granted most things we get without a struggle; we behave as if It is a right. We fail to treasure its real value. On the contrary, anything that we have fought for, we resolve to keep dearly – very close to our hearts. We do not toy with it. We are ready to showcase it.
This occasion was a rare occurrence. It was an opportune moment for Jacob that he did not let slip through his fingers. Twenty years ago, on the way to his uncle’s place, as he fled from the wrath of his twin brother at dusk, he stopped at a point named Bethel where he spent the night. That night he had a dream. “He saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
There above it stood the Lord, and He said: ‘I am the Lord the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All the peoples will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I promised you.” (Genesis 28:12-15)
God is not a man to lie nor would He say something and not accomplish it. That second encounter with Jacob would set in motion God’s promise made to His servant Jacob ... that He would bring him back home, and that He would never leave him until He had made good His promises to him.
At that very encounter, Jacob was to receive his breakthrough. God would change his name from Jacob, the deceiver to Israel. “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” (Genesis 32:28)
It is not always that our struggles end in defeat and discouragement. Sometimes they are intended to build us up and bring the good in us to the surface. The prelude to childbirth is very often the pangs of pain, but what comes out of it is immeasurable joy; the gift of life that makes all those nine months of waiting worth the trouble. Jacob, it seemed, was in a haste to accede to his breakthrough – all on his own terms. Therefore in the process he only met with frustrations. But in the fullness of time, according to God’s calendar, his accession to the throne of God’s promise was glorious.
Someone commented that ‘Jacob emerged at last on the plane of triumphant faith. In spite of all his shortcomings and weaknesses, he was a chosen vessel of God.’ What are you running after from that God has already laid down for you? What do you worry about that is causing you sleepless nights that God has already decreed would happen in your life? Wait, there is a time for everything ...
“For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.” (Habakkuk 2:3)