Saturday, January 16

Embrace the struggle

Scripture: Genesis 31-32, Luke 16

Genesis 32:28 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.”


It’s Jacob’s dark night of soul.  He was running away from his uncle/father-in-law Laban (he dodged that bullet), and going home to face his past: his brother Esau.  Upon learning that his brother was coming to meet him with a small army of 400 men, Jacob despaired and divided his family into two camps, hoping that at least half of them would survive.  That night he wrestled with God.  A man, most likely the angel of the Lord, wrestled with him until daybreak, and when he couldn’t best Jacob, he dislocated his hip, leaving Jacob with a limp and new name: Israel—the man who struggles with God and people and overcomes.

The story has multiple layers of meaning.  One centers on the words “wrestle” and “struggle” and Jacob’s new name “Israel” (meaning “he struggles with God”).  Jacob’s whole life has been a struggle—a struggle with his brother and his father, with his uncle, and with God.  The struggle has changed him.  He not only walks with a limp, but his character has grown, as has his relationship with God.  


Life is hard.  It’s a struggle.  But there is growth and change in the struggle.  Paul says that our suffering produces character and more.

Romans 5:3–4 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.

James calls us to rejoice in our struggles because it results in maturity.  

James 1:2–4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Your struggles may leave you bitter or better—your choice.  They may leave you with a limp, and with a new name, new character.  

Embrace the struggle, even the struggle with God.  


Prayer: Lord, I’m grateful that there is growth and promise wrapped in our struggles.  Help us to embrace those struggles and overcome, rather than run and miss out on the growth.