My friend Jimmy is a wrestler. Sometimes he wins and sometimes it is not his turn.
In today’s reading Jacob is nervous. He can’t sleep. Some years ago he cheated his brother Esau out of his birthright and stole his blessing, and now he is going home. He has already sent gifts of livestock ahead to appease Esau.
He is alone on the banks of the Jabbok. A stranger shows up and the most famous wrestling match in history takes place. Jacob wrestles with God (or an angel of God). They wrestle until daybreak with no clear winner.
We have all wrestled with God at times as we struggle to do things our way, or as we try to understand why bad things happen to us or those we love.
At first it appears that Jacob has overcome his foe, but then God prevails. God lets Jacob go, but leaves him with clear evidence of God’s superiority-a limp. God also leaves him with a blessing and a new name-Israel. Jacob now has a significant role in God’s plan. He is an unexpected choice. Sometimes God chooses to act in the world through those we don’t admire.
Dear God, humble us to obedience to your plan, even when we do not fully understand. Amen. — MC