I keep seeing the story of Jacob in my mind. The one where he wrestles with God through the night, and won’t let go until he receives a blessing. Have you ever really thought about this? Put yourself there as an observer for a minute. Jacob is there, and God comes as a man and they literally wrestle. Wait a minute, am I to believe that God couldn’t actually escape Jacob’s grasp? You know, the more I think about it the more I believe God was actually trying to show Jacob something. I may be wrong, but I think He was letting Jacob see that he was stronger than he thought he was.
You know how oftentimes we don’t realize the strength and resilience we have until we need to use it? This is one reason I don’t like to shelter my kids from having good healthy struggles in life. On more than one occasion, things have happened at school to one of my children, and I will first think, “I could put a stop to this nonsense right now.” Only to have God instruct me to take a step back and let Him work, even in their discomfort, so they can grow closer to Him and exercise their strengths. It is a hard, hard thing to do. Watching a child struggle is never going to be easy, but I am determined to learn how to keep out of Holy Spirit’s way because I want my kids to, above all else, be strong in the Lord.
The story of Jacob also reminds of a situation that happened a couple of years ago. The photo above this post is from that day. My son, Noah, was running a cross country race and I was standing at the finish line. As he came down the home stretch, I saw another runner closing the gap and knew if Noah didn’t push it hard, he would be passed. I am yelling, “Go Noah! You have more in you! You have more in you!! Push, push!! I know you can do it! You have more inside!!” It was a really intense moment.
I honestly think God is doing that with us sometimes. When life throws challenges your way, are you willing to keep moving forward, or do you change course at the slightest resistance? I see those times as opportunities. Opportunities to learn how to press further into God and find strength you’ve never known before.
For women, childbirth is a great example of finding hidden strength. The amount of pain during an unmedicated delivery is……well….immense. But I’ve never felt stronger than I have after partnering with God to bring one of my babies into the world. Those experiences left me feeling like there was no end to the strength buried inside of me. Those births have changed me on the inside. They ignited a fire in me. They made me feel like I am more than a conqueror. The way I learned to lean into God through each passing contraction, and the ever increasing length of my deliveries, is irreplaceable. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Is there an area of resistance in your life? Is there anything standing between you and the purpose that God has called you to carry out? If so, I encourage you to really bear down and lean into the Father and let Him teach you how to walk through discomfort instead of turning away.
God, I thank you for the struggles that lead me closer to You. I thank you for caring for me so much that You refuse to watch me walk around like a fragile or broken person. I thank You for training me up in the way I should go. You are my forever Trainer. Thank You for the relationship with You that was borne in times of walking out struggle with You hand in Hand. You are Faithful. You are Trustworthy. I adore You. Wrap this day in Your Presence and let me never lose sight of You, in Jesus name, Amen.
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. Genesis 32:22-32
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4