Struggling with God; April 21, 2021


Genesis 32:28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”

When you look at Jewish history, Israel is an enormously appropriate name. As many Bibles have footnotes to tell you, “Israel” means, “he struggles with God.” They have certainly been argumentative, at least, toward their Creator, who chose them as His agents anyway. It has always struck me as interesting that the angel toyed with Jacob, rather than crushing him, because there is no comparison between divine strength and human strength. I think the lesson he was teaching Jacob was not to give up. As came out in yesterday’s reading, Jacob had a revelation that he had been greatly blessed by God, but there was more he needed to learn. This verse says he “overcame” in the struggle, but I think the lesson is the exact opposite, that he couldn’t overcome God. The injury to his hip was a reminder, just as was Paul’s “thorn in the flesh.” (2 Corinthians 12:7) Like Paul, he needed to learn that his scheming and his tricks couldn’t save him, but God could. The sooner we learn that lesson and turn from rebellion to grateful obedience, the better off we are.

I have certainly had my moments of thinking I knew better than God, about any of a number of things! It wasn’t a concrete, “I know better than God,” but rather one of ignoring Him, or even downright disobeying Him, because I liked the way I was choosing. God has shown me the stupidity of that in various ways, always more graciously than I deserved. As I have commented several times, if I had been God, I would have squashed me a long time ago! I don’t want to struggle with God, I want to walk with Him. That He would allow me to do that is truly amazing grace. I have less excuse for rebellion and disobedience than most, having been taught about God from infancy, so I have no “bragging rights” about where I am now. After all, I still don’t obey Him perfectly! I certainly agree and identify with Paul in this area. (Philippians 3:12-14) That should give me insight and patience in dealing with those around me who are likewise struggling with trusting God enough to obey Him fully.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You again for Your incredible patience with me. Help me respond consistently, in full obedience rather than in fits of repentance and devotion, so that all the lies of the enemy may be defeated and Your will be accomplished in and through me, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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