Today in church the pastor gave insights on the famous story of Jacob wrestling with God. Like many other church goers I have heard the story many times but today was probably the first time it spoke to me in an authentic way. He attempted to answer some questions that I had not previously thought of and by doing this I felt more like Jacob than ever before.
Why was Jacob wrestling God?
In short Jacob had father issues. Big time. He was the second son, literally and figuratively. His father gave him a name that meant “Deceiver” and he lived up to that name. He lied and stole and was forced to be a fugitive. He was probably wrestling with his inner demons his whole life and came up losing every time. He was angry and confused and maybe even blamed God frequently. He was deeply unsatisfied and yearned for a father than would give approval. He finds himself wrestling someone that has all the answers and he refuses to let go. Jacob won’t let go until he receives something that his earthly father never gave: a blessing.
Why didn’t God squash Jacob like a bug?
This is the question that I have always wondered. The answer is not complicated at all. We do deserve death, every last one of us. God surely could crush us to oblivion with the snap of his fingers. He could have done that to Jacob. But He didn’t. He chose to allow Jacob to wrestle until he was nice and tired. He allowed Jacob to wrestle Him because it brought them close. His grace and love is so perfect that its ok when we question and challenge God. It actually shows God that we are thriving for His approval and that is precisely what He wants. God had Jacob right where He wanted. Unlike a wrestling match that we are familiar with, the match between Jacob and God was not set up for there to be a winner and a loser. First of all, God will never lose. Second of all, He will not allow us to lose if we are seeking Him. Jacob was seeking his Father.
Why did God choose to injure Jacob?
I used to think I understood why God injured Jacob’s hip causing a lifelong limp. I thought that God punished Jacob for not letting go, for having the audacity to try and challenge the Almighty God to a fight. But as I stated before this was not a fight at all but a struggle of wills. Jacob wanted God to bless Him the way he wanted to be blessed. He was stubborn and set on having God submit to his will. That is not how things work and Jacob found that out. Truthfully, the injury was a blessing. It was a reminder of Jacob’s weakness. It was a reminder that in that weakness God is willing to be strong for us.
Are you a Jacob? I certainly am.
Do you walk around with an unfilled void? I certainly do.
Do you question God? Me too.
My analysis on the issue is that much like the story of Jacob, God yearns for us to wrestle with Him. We don’t want to do it because it might bring pain. It might reveal weaknesses we are not proud of and don’t want anyone to know about. We must wrestle with God to receive His blessing. His blessings are not always what we want.
They are always what we need.