Christianity 201

January 14, 2013

When God Breaks Us

Genesis 32:24-32 – New International Version

24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 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. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”

But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

28 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.”

29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”

But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.

30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. 32 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.

This is from the book Jacob: The Fools God Chooses by David Roper (2002, Discovery House Publishers) pp 85-88

…Completely expended, Jacob could no longer continue. But neither would he let go! Out on his feet, he still clenched his antagonist fiercely.

“Let me go,” his opponent shouted, but Jacob continued to cling. “I will not let go unless you bless me,” he said.

The man asked him, “What is your name?” The form of the question actually means, “What is the meaning of your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered. Clever, cunning Jacob knew well who he was.

Then the man said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel [one who prevails with God] because you have struggled with God…and have prevailed. (Genesis 32:28029 emphasis added) Jacob’s defeat and victory came simultaneously.

Phantom match or real encounter? Jacob knew. His opponent was the Angel of the Lord, God Himself, coming to grips with Jacob’s duplicity, chastening his pride, challenging his tenacity, wrestling with him, relentless in His love. He would not give up until Jacob gave in and clung to God alone.

The clash was the climax of Jacob’s lifelong ambivalence, resisting God and yet relying on Him. Now, utterly defeated and exhausted, Jacob gave up and gave in. Old Jacob was finished. He could no longer survive without a vice-like grip on God, clutching Him, clinging to Him

Jacob was given a new name; the old name was passé. He was no longer Jacob but Israel — a winner. “The bewildered gymnast,” says Emily Dickenson, “had worsted God.” God had broken Jacob, and Jacob had won!

…His story is ours. We, too want God — somewhat — but we hold out against Him. He knows He cannot prevail against us unless He takes some severe measure that will give us no alternative but to yield. And so he becomes our adversary — against us because he is for us.

“Our greatest victories are wrought through pain and purchased at the cost of the humbling of the flesh,” wrote F. B. Meyer. That’s when we learn that “the secret of prevailing with God and man (is) not in the strength but in the weakness of the flesh.” So it was for Jacob; so it is for us.

Jacob’s wrestling, though a literal match, was symbolic of the spiritual struggle that occupies us. It has to do with our hesitancy toward God; we place limits on how much of us He can have.

Because God so loves us, He does not want to lose us. And so He pits His strength against ours. He will touch whatever it is that causes us to stand against Him. Our dreams may fail, our businesses may fold, our best-laid plans may go awry. An accident may impair us, a crippling disease might ruin us, or we simply grow old. Our bodies, once strong, begin to weaken, our minds, once sharp begin to fail. He has touched us and stripped us of our natural strength and ability.

These effects are not signs of God’s wrath and displeasure but evidences of His love. He is working through all of this, wrestling with us, dusting us up, bringing us down to take from us all that hinders His love. He will not give up until we’re wholly His.

Jacob limped away from his encounter diminished… His maiming marked him forever. But if you were to ask about his infirmity he would tell you that the best day of his life was the day God put him on the mat. That was the night Jacob lost everything he had and gained everything worth having.

~David Roper.

1 Comment »

  1. >> against us because He is for us.
    >> Jacob lost everything he had and gained everything worth having.
    I can think of a number of times when I thought God was working against me . . . but in reality He was working FOR me: refining me, maturing me.
    Praise God for hindsight and the way He uses it to strengthen us and give us faith when more troubles knock at our door.

    Comment by meetingintheclouds — January 16, 2013 @ 10:03 pm | Reply


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