Genesis 32:28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”
This is a very famous story, but a very strange one to me. There is no way that a human being could actually fight with God and win, or even battle to a draw, but that is the way this is presented. I have to feel that God allowed Jacob to have this experience to teach him to persist for the blessing, to be willing to put his all into it. Jacob himself thought he was wrestling God, but the physical manifestation was in all probability an angel. Even so, there is no way a man could out-fight an angel. The name given to Jacob here is very fitting, because down through the ages since then his descendants have indeed struggled with God, not receiving His instructions with child-like simplicity but codifying and complicating and ultimately rejecting them. We do struggle with who God is, with what He is like, because we are indeed created in His image, (Genesis 1:27) but at the same time we are so very different from Him. As He pointed out to Isaiah, even His thoughts are far higher than ours. (Isaiah 55:9) However, in our struggles we learn more of ourselves, and yes, we learn more of God. As I quote with some frequency, my father had a saying that he used often: “Give all you know of yourself to all you know of Christ.” It is in our struggles that we learn more of both, and so our commitment to and fellowship with God deepens, for our great blessing and His glory.
I have had my times of running from God, or of taking Him for granted, or of misunderstanding Him, or even of actively rebelling against Him. I think all of those fit into this category of struggling with God. In the process I have learned that He is incredibly patient but not infinitely so, that He is totally faithful, and that He has a sense of humor. That last one is hard to explain, but I am convinced of it. After all, how could Someone without a sense of humor have created something as quirky as I am? I have learned that God wants close fellowship with me far more than I can grasp, much less desire with that intensity myself. I have learned that He can, wants to, and will use me as His agent to do His will in ways that I couldn’t imagine, if I will yield myself to Him in obedient trust. And I have learned the incredible joy of experiencing that when it happens. I am far from perfectly consistent in maintaining that depth of fellowship with my Lord, but I know that in Christ it is possible, and that has become my goal.
Father, thank You for everything. Thank You for the things that have felt good at the time and the things that were painful at the time. Thank You for carrying me through them all, because I didn’t have the strength to get through on my own. Thank You for the incredible privilege of speaking Your words, of extending Your hand, of loving with Your love. May I do that more and more, for the blessing of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!