Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak….Then he said, “Let me go….” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” Genesis 32:24, 26-28
Jacob wrestled with “a man” on the banks of a river on his way back to Canaan. Various interpretations of this story portray the “man” as an angel, a prophetic vision, the Christ, or even God the Father. Jacob prevailed in this wrestling match, which seems unlikely to happen if the “man” were God. But prevail he does, and then this “man” asks Jacob his name. When Jacob tells him, the “man” tells Jacob his name is now to be “Israel” (which literally means “contends with God). Jacob then believes that he has “seen God face to face, and yet (his) life is preserved.”
This story reminds me about all the times, mostly in the middle of the night, when I have “contended with God.” When sleep evades me, my thoughts often turn to the things in my life that do not seem fair or right. I discuss these things with God, often with tears and silent rage. “Why did a twelve-year old girl at our church have to die?” “What can I do to help my four-year old great-granddaughter with her delayed speech when I live so far away?” “How can I stop using swear words when I get angry?” “How can I stop getting angry?” “When will I be able to balance my checkbook and clean out my closets?” Usually, I end up making peace with God for the moment, and then I sing myself to sleep. I almost never feel that I have “prevailed” in my struggles with God, not because He is stronger than I am, but because He is more patient and forgiving than I am. His grace has always allowed me to commune with Him through prayer. I eventually come to a place where I accept that seeking His will is a better choice than my continuing to complain.
Lord, You showed us through Jacob that it’s okay to “wrestle” with You. Thank You for loving us even then. Amen
Both candid and humorous, insightful and ponderous, Meg Blaine Corrigan’s memoir, Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child, takes the reader through her chaotic childhood with an alcoholic mother and enabling father to a violent assault that nearly ended her life. She populates her tale with vivid descriptions of her parents, other influential adults, the attacker, and her disastrous first marriage. But this story has a happy ending, when Meg finds solace in a God she didn’t think she’d ever believe in, when He gently helps her heal from her past lives and move into the best times of her life. Meg has also written a novel, Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist, about said first marriage, as well as a Christian devotional, Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, comprised of blogs from this site. Stay tuned for sequels to her last two books! All of her works may be purchased through her website, www.MegCorrigan.com or from www.amazon.com .