I often struggle with God. I was reading this morning about Jacob’s struggle with God, and a feeling of immense empathy rose inside me for Jacob. I identify fully with him. Been there, done that and sometimes still find myself struggling with God! Jacob’s story goes like this:
“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 men 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.” (Genesis 32:24 – 30)
There were five main things that struck me about this story. The first was the fact that we can struggle with God but there will be consequences if we continue the struggle indefinitely and do not stop to listen to what God has to say to us. Jacob’s hip was put out of joint.
The second was that we need to take the time to be alone with God.
The third was that even though there may be consequences for our struggles, if we cling to God, He will bless us.
J.R. Miller says it like this “Jacob won the victory and the blessing here not by wrestling but by clinging. His hip was out of joint and he could struggle no longer, but he would not let go. Unable to wrestle further, he locked his arms around the neck of his mysterious opponent, helplessly resting all his weight upon him, until he won at last. We too will not win the victory in prayer (or actions) until we cease our struggling. We must give up our own will and throw our arms around our Father’s neck in clinging faith. What wins blessings and victories is the strength of clinging faith.”
The fourth was that we often ask God who He is when we are going through a difficult time. Why do we do that when we know that God is a God of love and has promised to be with us through all our trials and struggles. In Joshua 1: 5 God clearly states, “I will never leave you nor forsake you”.
The fifth was “what if God has already given me a ‘new’ name?”
When I was born my parents named me Noelene Grace. Quite a few years ago my husband and I were having a serious argument and during the argument he said this “I am not surprised that one of the names your parents gave you was Grace. They obviously had insight into the fact that you would need a lot of it in your life time! You are in dire need of being able to exercise grace now!” Loathe as I was to admit it, there was a lot of truth in what he said.
What if, when God thinks about me, He thinks of me as Grace?
Grace is the quality of being pleasing. It is speaking and behaving in a way that is intended to impress and attract people. Grace embodies favour and goodwill. Grace is realizing that something is right and proper and willingly doing what is asked of us.
Isn’t Grace what we are all called to be as Believers. Romans 8:29 states “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, Jesus”. Jesus embodies the word Grace.
Grace is the free and unmerited gift and favour of God shown towards man.
“Blessings come not by wrestling but by clinging to Him in faith” – J.R. Miller