Every time we turn around he’s manipulating or stealing or deceiving, pushing himself forward by sheer force of will.
And then we find him, an old man, the night before he’s going to meet his brother. Jacob has a family now, with children and servants. He has amassed wealth. He deceived in order to receive the blessing meant for his brother, and now he is as great as his father predicted he would be.
But on this night, it’s like his soul-wound flares up again. He wrestles with God on the banks of the Jabbok River. All night he fights and as daybreak comes, the angel of God touches his hip.
In an instant, Jacob’s weakness is exposed.
It had always been there, you know. Jacob was a man. A sinful, weak man. A man in need of God.
And there, with all his weakness filling his body with pain, Jacob does the most heroic thing he will ever do: He doesn’t let go. He clings to this angel– this God-in-flesh– and he breaks down and says, what I believe is his most desperate secret pain, “Bless me.”
All his life, Jacob worked to steal the blessings of others and I can’t help but think that somewhere deep inside, Jacob wondered if there was anything good enough in him to deserve a blessing.
I see this soul-wound painted across his story. The child who, from birth, wondered if he was good enough for his father’s love, for a blessing of his own. And when it came down to it, when his hidden weakness was laid bare, He didn’t let go of God. Instead, he finally asked God for the thing he had been trying to steal his whole life: a blessing.
I love what God does.
He changes his name.
From Jacob, or “grasper”, he is transformed into Israel, “God will prevail”. Oh, glory.
In my life, God used a different type of “touch to the hip” to break open my soul-wound. He used a pain called infertility to tear apart the masquerade I had been perfecting since birth.
God, in His grace, refused to leave me with festering wounds inside. He inflicted pain, yes, but only because it hurts to break a wound open so it can heal.
And I was left with the same choice as Jacob. I could have let go, wallowed in my weakness as I pretended to be strong– or I had the choice to hang on tight. To accept the exposure of my soul-wound, and humble myself enough to whisper the words that were burning in my veins.
For me, it wasn’t a blessing but a fear. Will You really give me what I need? Will You, God? Or will I be forced to take care of myself?
Because that’s my default. I assume God can’t, or won’t, and I try to do it all myself.
Now that I think about it, I’m really not much different from Jacob at all.
And the question is maybe really the same thing: Do I really have any worth to You?
It’s the enemy’s lie from the very beginning. Maybe God isn’t really enough for you. Maybe you need something different, something more. Maybe He doesn’t really have good in store for you. Maybe you’d better take care of yourself.
Infertility was my dislocated hip, and though I was tempted, I didn’t let go.
“Tell me, God,” I whispered in the darkness, “do I really matter to You at all?”
And in response, God thundered into my life. His voice shouted from the pages of Scripture, whispered on the morning breeze, echoed on the sunrises. I could hear His tears and see His pain and I knew that every tear I cried was caught in His hands and every slice of pain I felt was magnified in His own heart.
I finally understood how John could call himself the “beloved disciple”. The Father’s love poured into me. This crazy-horrible-scary walk through infertility was the exposure of my soul-wound– and as I look around today at this barren desert, I can laugh with delight.
Not because it’s easy. Not because it’s fun. Not because I like it.
I can laugh because I have the Living Water beside me, the Bread of Life holding my hand, and I have seen the face of God. Truthfully, I should change the name of my affliction. No longer shall it be “infertility” but rather, as Jacob named the edge of the river, “Peniel“. For this is where I saw the face of God.
Friend, are you wrestling with God? Are you being forced to taste your own weakness? Is pain pulsing through your life?
Don’t let go.
Don’t let go.
Talk to God. Ask your questions. Cling tight to Him. It will hurt. Of course it will hurt. But if you hold tight, the place that once brought only pain will be changed.
A new name will come.
And He will show His glory to you.
Oh, dearest one, don’t let go.