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Summer Devotional and Sermon Series

Week 8/Heroes: Jacob

I spent my freshman year in high school in Winslow, AZ and one of the biggest events of the school year in this small town was the annual wrestling tournament. Since there was only one high school in town, teams from the surrounding area came to participate. The gym was full of spectators and excitement ran high as we cheered on our team. This was a new sport to me and it was fascinating to watch two opponents grapple with each other in an attempt to pin the other to the mat.

This is how I picture Jacob wrestling with God. Jacob had sent his family on their way and he was left alone to pray and to prepare to meet his estranged brother. A stranger appeared and began to wrestle with Jacob… this goes on through the night. When it became apparent how strong Jacob was, the stranger dislocated his hip to disable him. Jacob then realized who he had been wrestling with and his response was “I will not let you go until you bless me.” At this point, God told Jacob his name will be changed… he will now be called Israel which means “contends with God.” Jacob had been filled with fear about facing Esau but now he could move forward after coming to grips with God and ceasing his struggling.

In the end, Jacob did what we all must do. He confronted his failures, his weaknesses, his sins, all the things that were hurting him . . . and faced God. We do not physically wrestle with God as Jacob did, but we often grapple with His will for our lives. We balk at what He wants for us… we want to do things our way. God will meet us in our struggles but not necessarily with soft words of comfort… He may actually come to us with a call to wrestle with Him in prayer. Just like with Jacob, we may fight Him and His will for us, but in truth, He is so very good. Don’t give up in that struggle…wrestle with God with a tenacious faith through the loneliness of that dark night, and trust that by daybreak His blessings will come.

Psalm 30: 4-5
Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime
Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning


Genesis 32


Give us strength to wrestle with you, God. To confront our fears and our weaknesses and our sins and to come to you for your blessing. Comfort us in the darkness of the night and bring joy to us in the morning. Amen