I like hearing about a “good” struggle, when someone is up against it and prevails over staggering odds. In many ways that has been my story over the years, struggling and trying to prevail. It has been close at times, not sure whether I would prevail but hoping and praying like crazy that I would.
Jacob struggle in his parent’s household; not what his father expected from a son, and finding more solace in domestic activities which won his mother’s heart. When he tried to attain the status that his slightly old brother had, it backfired and he found himself far from home. But he also found God, and then found a wife; and then he found his soulmate, and that calmed his heart. So he turned towards home and to face all those memories of growing up, and his slightly older brother.
“The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had.” (Genesis 32:22 – 23)
Now, this is the part where it gets interesting. All that he had and acquired he sent to safely, and it was just him alone struggling with the past and grasping to see what the future would be. I have been in that place myself, away from all comfortable and known settings and waiting to see what the future would bring. And I have struggled. My struggles, however, were figurative and internal. But nonetheless draining and exhausting.
Jacob was alone on the banks of waterway, and was alone with his thoughts . . . . and his fears.
“Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” (Verses 24 – 26)
Struggling, wrestling, grasping with feelings, conflicts, and situations . . . . in the dark. And then sucker punched. After all that, surviving & enduring, you are not going to stop and let go until something positive comes out of it.
“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.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him.” (Verses 27 – 29)
I do not think, beloved reader, that it was just this conflict that earned Jacob now Israel the blessing. I think it was the ongoing conflict and struggle that Israel has all of his life. He went searching for what he needed, found it, and then earned the right to claim it as his own. And now, coming back to the area that was “home” and facing the past he left behind he found the depth of blessing he has been searching for. Not the birthright that came from being the head of a family, and not the blessing that came from one’s earthly parents; but the peace of mind knowing that you have done the right thing.
Sometimes those are the mightiest struggles of all: knowing and identifying what is right, and seeing what the cost will be & what it will take to accomplish it, and then forging ahead to complete what has to be done.
“So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.” (Verses 30 – 31)
Mark it well, beloved reader, many times after such a struggle you will feel wounded and wonder how you will carry on. Your wounds though, may very will be the signs that you have overcome. Wear them bravely, for they are badges of honor. Shalom & Selah!