During a dark night when Jacob’s deepest fears loomed large, when his future felt bleak and God’s good promises for him seemed impossible, he hit ‘ground zero’ and did the last thing he knew to do – he clung to God.
The Father had brought him to this moment of wrestling and it was a precious and pivotal moment of progress in Jacob’s journey. Read our previous study on how trials are a process of wrestling with God that deepens our connection with Him and strengthens us for destiny.
Through wrestling, God transformed Jacob in three ways. The first is seen in Genesis 32:26-28.
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.”
God changed his name and, in giving him a new name, God proclaimed the identity and purpose for which Jacob had been created: to be a prince among men and the father of a nation.
His old name “Jacob” literally meant “heel grabber” and implied that he was a deceiver, as when he stole his older brother’s birthright and blessing. His name also meant “over-reacher” and accurately described a man striving for success that he thinks he doesn’t deserve. Deep down Jacob didn’t think he deserved the things he dreamed about, hence his fear. Sound familiar?
Jacob had asked to be blessed. We can’t be sure exactly what he had in mind – probably to be delivered from his fears, to regain his family and possessions, and to enjoy favor from God that had brought him wealth and success before.
In response, God did something far greater than these “blessings” that Jacob sought. He answered the deepest cry of Jacob’s heart, the root issue behind all of his longings. He told Jacob who he really was, why he was alive and what he would become. He proclaimed Jacob’s identity and destiny in a word, and that word declared a great future that was guaranteed by the Father himself. No longer would Jacob need to “over-reach”, to strive and to deceive. God stamped his heart with peace and certainty.
In the dark night of trials, the Father designs a wrestling process for each of us that allows our deep questions to surface. Often this is painful because our identity – how we think about ourselves – is exposed and challenged. But as we “wrestle on” by clinging to Him, He speaks powerfully into our hearts, unveiling the glorious purpose of our lives and declaring that we will be what He, our Father, created us to be. He shows us our birthright, our inheritance, our destiny in His Kingdom, and He tells us that we matter and are greatly loved.
So wrestle on, my friend. Allow the dark questions to surface. But listen to the strong and loving voice of the Father who is unveiling your destiny. He’s speaking to you about the “glorious freedom of the children of God” that creation is eagerly waiting to see (Romans 8:19-21), and your part in it!