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.”Gen. 32:24-28 NIV
There are a few things we can learn from wrestling with God. The first thing is that it is not always a bad thing to wrestle with God. Yes, sometimes our fears and anxieties prevent us from allowing God’s will. Like Jacob, sometimes, we’re too preoccupied with trying to solve our problems by our own wit and we end up tussling with God’s will for our lives. As bad as this may seem, it is not always a bad thing. It is on that battlefield that God grooms us into the strongest versions of ourselves.
The strongest version of yourself is not the most scarred version, but the most trusting version, at least for a believer. What this means is that wrestling with God, in terms of fighting that which He wants for you is not about counting your losses, it is about how you eventually learn to trust Him even more. Faith is what strengthens us as believers. Jesus has given us so much power and authority but we can only access all of it through faith. Until we learn to wholeheartedly trust God, His leading, and His will, we would be weaker than what He had destined us to be. Jacob wrestled with God all night and even got physically disabled because of the wrestle but he came out of that battle having much more faith in God and that made him much stronger. He was now confident enough to face Esau.
All along, Jacob had manipulated, tricked, and struggled his way into making things work. Yet again, he was doing the same thing. He tried to pacify Esau with material goods but when that seemed like a failed plan, he began to sink into despair concerning what would become of him. He had for too long tried to be self-reliant but now God was not going to have it anymore. It was through that wrestle that Jacob learned to lean on God. Many times, it is our anxiety or fear that comes between us and submitting to God’s perfect will. We can only learn to cast our cares upon God when we have truly submitted to Him. In 1 Peter 5:6-7, we notice that the submission came first before the casting of cares.
Wrestling with God brings peace. How? Since the outcome of wrestling with God is surrender, we are finally able to let go of those things troubling us. We have a renewed faith that we can cast our cares upon Him and that He is still very much on our case.
And God is very merciful and kind that He chases after us. It took a wrestle between Him and Jacob for Jacob to receive a change of heart and come to surrender. God initiated this wrestle. He didn’t leave him to waste away until he finally realized his need to rely on God. He wrestled with him till He brought him to the point of surrender.
Letting go of our plans and aligning them with God’s is not the only thing that reveals our surrender. We must also let go of our anxieties and fears. For Jacob, it was more about these than about plans he had made. These are some of the baggage we carry that prevent us from total submission.
Moreover, you can make the most of wrestling with God by receiving His blessings. God is very willing and ready to bless you. And you can never be too greedy by asking for His blessings. Jacob understood this and refused to let go until he received that blessing. The good news about God’s blessing is that it maketh rich and adds no sorrow to it (Pro. 10:22).
Nevertheless, the “danger” of wrestling with God is that we may “lose a few things”. Jacob lost his fitness. Instead of waiting for God to humble you, you can ask Him to help you become more humble. Therefore, this is not to encourage us to fight the will of God for us. Rather, it is encouragement that we can actually surrender to His will. Scripture helps us understand that His will for us is perfect and the Holy Spirit is there to help us submit even when it seems hard.