Do you ever feel like that you are working against God? Do you feel like your plans and God’s plans for you are at odds?
You are not alone!
The Bible is full of candid moments in which men and women struggle with God along these same lines. Like you and I, they have an idea or a vision for how they want their life to unfold. As clear as this may be to them, they believe that God is either working against them or is indifferent to their plans.
Of all the characters in the Bible that this is true for, Jacob stands out. His struggle results in an epic wrestling match with God that lasts all night long. Once the sun rises, he emerges from that struggled on the river's edge with a limp and a new name. Moreover, this wrestling match that came on the eve of his reunion with Esau, his brother whom he had double-crossed all those years before.
This paragraph is from my forthcoming book, Go Outside: The Adventure of Knowing and Being Known by God (Lucid Books).
Jacob’s encounter with God on the eve of his most dreaded hour resulted in a limp. Instead of it being a curse, the limp, for all of its pain, was a blessing. And, so it is with God’s grace for all who by faith take hold of it. God grace is a force that will not leave us alone. It reorients and restores. God’s grace renames us as those who are loved by God. By God’s grace we are all brought into the family who trace their heritage back to Jacob. Once named for his cheating ways, by grace, he becomes known as one for whom God had struggled in order to save. Incredibly, at the end of his life, Jacob, now Israel, upon meeting the Pharaoh of Egypt, says that his life has been relatively short and difficult. Then, with those words, he reaches out to bless the Pharaoh in the name of the Lord (Gen. 47:9–10).
Instead of Jacob’s struggle leading to death, it leads to hope and salvation, albeit with a limp! This side of eternity we may limp, but we know that the struggle with God builds faith and hope and will result in all things made new! For now, that limp — that sign that while things are good they aren't perfect — is a blessing and the ache it produces in you and I will one day be satisfied when Christ returns.
We, like Jacob, can take the final stanza of Psalm 23 to heart...
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (English Standard Version)