That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, ‘Let me go, for it is daybreak.’ But Jacob replied, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’ The man asked him, ‘What is your name?’ ‘Jacob,’ he answered. Then the man said, ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.’ Jacob said, ‘Please tell me your name.’ But he replied, ‘Why do you ask my name?’ Then he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, ‘It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.’ The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.
1. The most fervent prayers are at the most difficult times.
Genesis 32:9 Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac,Lord, you who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ 10 I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two camps. 11 Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. 12 But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’”
Jacob realizes he has no viable defense against his brother. He has no options other than to trust God with his future.
2. Faith is developed when all of our options have disappeared.
Jacob has no real options to pacify Esau. His best efforts are futile.
Our faith is strengthened when God is the only option left. It is never faith if you can see the solution.
3. Blessings that change the trajectory of our lives never come without a struggle.
After Jacob positions his family he moves to spend the night by himself, presumably to pray and seek God for their deliverance.
The amount of time we are willing to spend alone with God will reveal how important the ask is.
Jacob wrestles with the stranger until daybreak and when the man realizes that he cannot overpower Jacob he dislocates his hip but Jacob refuses to relent and demands a blessing.
24So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.25When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man.26Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. 28Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
4. Always be thankful for your limp. Unexpected
33 Jacob looked up and there was Esau, coming with his four hundred men; so he divided the children among Leah, Rachel and the two female servants. 2 He put the female servants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph in the rear. 3 He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother. 4 But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept.
Instead of being overrun Jacob is now embraced by his brother Esau. Jacob is experiencing the blessing of his brother who was rightly furious with him. This blessing cannot be separated from the pain pulsing down his leg. The most important and meaningful blessings in our lives are always connected to a struggle. We can be thankful that the pain and the scars have accomplished far more than anything we could have accomplished on our own.