THE WORD: The blessings of wrestling

“Jacob Wrestling with the Angel” by Rembrandt (circa 1659). Gemäldegalerie, Berlin. (Public Domain)

The story of Jacob is filled with conflict — including a biblical recount of a battle with his twin, Esau, in their mother’s womb. Before he would be the father of the 12 tribes of Israel, Jacob undertook challenges and journeys that ultimately blessed him. As Jacob was returning home to Canaan, after his servitude to his uncle Laban, he was alone by a river and confronted by a mysterious being — an unknown man. Scholars have guessed the being’s identify as an angel, God himself or even Jesus. The man wrestled Jacob throughout the night, and at dawn, Jacob had not been defeated. Jacob was not unscathed — as the man inflicted harm on Jacob — but he was ultimately blessed by his fellow combatant. Jacob ultimately said, “I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”

Jacob did not seek out this unknown man and he was not looking for a fight. Instead, this man stood between Jacob and his homeland. Sometimes we are on a schedule that is interrupted for unknown reasons and by unknown actors. We can be frustrated. Jacob’s interruption resulted in his ultimate blessing. Jacob’s plan was altered by God’s plan. Our plans may seem clear or important. But, ultimately, God has a plan for us which requires us to “trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

Genesis 32:24-28

24 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. 25 And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. 26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. 27 And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. 28 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.