The Rewards of Wrestling with God: Pt 2

Examining the incident where Jacob encountered the pre-incarnate Christ, we’ve been discussing the rewards that come when we’re willing to wrestle with God in prayer. As we wrap up this unique and informative event, note these two key changes that took place in the life of this notable Old Testament patriarch, ones that can happen to you as well.

 A changed disposition- Life was never the same for Jacob from that point on. His outlook was different. His view of God had changed. Upon receiving his blessing, he named the spot where the wrestling match took place Peniel, “because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared” (Genesis 32:30).

Did this mean that life was perfect for Jacob post Jabbok? Were his behavior and circumstances always good after that? The answer to those questions is an obvious no. Even though he bore a new name, there were times when he acted like the old person. Trials and tribulations continued to emerge. Forgiveness of sin does not mean removal of consequences.

From then on, his reverence deepened and his commitment grew. Physical evidence of this can be found where, after talking to God at Bethel, he built an altar for Him there (Genesis 35:14,15).

In March of 2010, I had the privilege of baptizing a man who could be characterized as a legend in the town where I live. Most everybody knows and likes him. Growing up on the “other side of the tracks,” he spent a lot of his time as a young man in the local pool hall. These days, you’re likely to find him at the golf course or local diner. You won’t have trouble spotting him because he’s the center of attention, usually talking and ever the entertainer. He has strong opinions, especially on politics, and doesn’t mind sharing them. Yet, ever since he surrendered his life to Christ, he’s a different man. To a person, people will tell you he’s changed. Unless he’s ill or out of town, he’s in his men’s Bible class every Sunday. He remains opinionated and outspoken, letting a curse word slip out now and then.  However, he’s a kinder and gentler version of his former self.

Likewise, after Jabbok, Jacob exuded a changed disposition. As evidence of this, God left him with :

 A constant reminder “The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip” (Genesis 32:31).

Paul wrote to the church at Galatia, “Let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus” (Galatians 6:17). The apostle gladly bore the scars left behind from the stoning and beating he willingly endured for Christ’s sake. He pondered the privilege of sharing in the sufferings of Christ (see Philippians 3:10), understanding the price he paid paled in comparison to the one Jesus expended on the Cross.

Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter had a Major League baseball career that spanned over two decades. An 11 time all star, he played on the 1986 New York Mets World Series championship team. Concerning his time in the majors, Carter recalls in his autobiography Gamer: “Except for a few games here and there, the only time I wasn’t playing hurt was when I was too hurt to play.  I had four operations on my right knee during my active playing days and another operation on both knees in October 1992 immediately following my retirement. I had two broken thumbs, three broken ribs, ligament tears in both ankles, a busted-up toe, chronic pain in my right knee, and a nagging back ailment that got worse with age.”

Carter no doubt dealt with the nagging results of multiple injuries and operations till the day he died. Yet, he could gaze at his World Series ring and ponder the memories with a great sense of achievement, appreciation, and accomplishment.

For the rest of his life, Jacob had a hitch in his step as a reminder of that fateful day along the Jabbok. He would look back at that occasion when he ceased living by his own strength and discovered the necessity of tapping into God’s.

Are you in over your head with  something that’s way beyond your ability to control? Continue to take it to God. Like Jacob, wrestle with Him in prayer, determined to receive a blessing. You may end up with battle scars. Yet the unsearchable things discovered in the process will make it worth your while.

 

 

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