Jacob sends his women and children on ahead of him when he goes to meet Esau. He remains back alone. Then comes a famous but confusing incident.
At the beginning of this part of the story, it mentions angels coming to meet Jacob. But then we don’t hear anything else about it. He hangs back alone to spend the night with one of them. It just says a man wrestled with him until morning. There is no record of words exchanged until morning. Jacob wins by endurance and perseverance, and the angel blesses him because of it.
His blessing? He becomes the father of the nation of Israel. He becomes Israel. His name was changed to Israel, which means “fights with God.” Would you name your child “Fights with dad”?
It will define Israel, though. The angel says it’s because he strived with man and God and prevailed. Jacob struggled with Laban and won because of the Lord. Jacob struggled with this angel and just held on. He doesn’t leave unscathed. He limps for the rest of his life, as far as we know.
This is Israel’s story. They struggle. They prevail because of God’s intervention. They will struggle even with God, but they will prevail because there will always be a remnant just holding on. And today, if we as Christians are grafted into Israel, how has this become our story? Are we fighting with God?
People blame God for the bad things that happen. When catastrophes strike, they are called “acts of God.” Christians act like God can’t be trusted to protect and provide.
They are fighting with God. They are calling Him names, saying He’s something other than loving and good. They are denying who He is and suffering for it.
What can we do? One, we can just hold on. Even if we get lost in the maze and mist of questioning God and struggling, we hold on. We don’t let go because we know in there somewhere is the real truth, and it’s what we want.
But better, we can surrender instead of struggle. If God wraps His arms around you, don’t wrestle. Let Him hold you. Give up the fight and let Him carry you through. Rest in His arms. Know that He is loving, holy, good. And let that be enough.