Encountering God

In the Old Testament we find the story of Jacob.  Jacob was a man through whom God promised to bless nations in future years to come.  His seed would spread over the earth.  Even so, Jacob was a man tormented.  In his youth he deceived his brother, Esau, and stole his blessing that would have been given to him as the first-born son.  In this act, Jacob also deceived his father.  Esau vows to kill Jacob.  Jacob flees to another country to escape.

Years pass and Jacob is married, has many children, and amasses great wealth through his herds of sheep and goats.  He comes to disagreement with his father-in-law and decides to leave.  However, in his attempt to escape his very difficult situation, he receives news that puts him in the grip of fear.  Let’s look at what is recorded in Genesis 32:6-7: “The messengers returned to Jacob and reported, ‘We met your brother, Esau, and he is already on his way to meet you — with an army of 400 men!’  Jacob was terrified at the news.”  Years had passed, but the thing Jacob had run away from had caught up to him.

Poor Jacob.  He made a horrible decision in his youth.  Then, throughout his days he was often brought down by unfortunate situations.  Although he had gained riches, he was a despondent man, plagued by guilt.  If he confronted himself honestly, he would have to admit he was a liar, a deceiver, and a manipulator.  In the midst of this emotional turmoil, his worst fears were coming to him: his brother was coming to kill him.

Then something interesting happens.  Jacob leaves his family and servants on one side of the rive while he crosses to the other side.  He lays down to sleep, using a stone for his pillow.  However, sleep did not come.  Instead, he is visited by an angel of God.  The event recorded in Genesis tells us that Jacob wrestled with this angel all night long, demanding a blessing from him.  There is Jacob, at last confronting his fears and coming to grips with the kind of man he has been.  He wrestles in his torment.  He wrestles in his depression.  He wrestles through the night, begging for blessing.

What happens?  By morning the angel finally agrees to grant blessing to Jacob, but he kicks Jacob in the hip, causing him to limp for the rest of his days.  This limp, no doubt, would make certain that Jacob never forgot that night.  Jacob would never forget how he wrestled with God’s messenger, finally admitting that he could not go on as he was; he needed God’s blessing to get through his days.  Isn’t it interesting to note, that it was only when Jacob surrendered, that he found victory.

Are you battling today?  Have you been running away from something that depresses you?  Do you feel like you’re in a dark hole?  Is there no escape?  Do not despair the despondency; it could be what brings you to the light of God’s hope.  Are you wrestling in anguish?  Like Jacob, no matter the turmoil, call out to God for His blessing.  Stay in His presence until you soak up His peace into your troubled soul.  Surrender your pain to Him. Confess your sin to Him.  It is only  an encounter with God that brings  victory.

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