The story of Jacob wrestling with God all night offers lessons for us in dealing with the trials of life.
[Darris McNeely] When I was in high school, I was a wrestler. We had collegiate wrestling introduced to my high school class. It was one of the hardest things I ever did. Wrestling at that time was three two-minute quarters, two guys on the mat going around. I thought, “Aw, we can do that”. It was the most exhausting, grueling two minutes – four minutes, if I lasted that long – of my life. It was an exertion to wrestle. We grunted, we groaned, we – you know, voices got loud at times, and you perspired, and it was a workout.
I thought about that recently. I was speaking to a group of people in a sermon, and I was talking about people going through suffering, people dealing with pain, dealing with illness and severe trials, wrestling with God as they went through it. And I made the comment that it was okay to get emotional with God as you prayed to God, talk with Him, and sought to understand why things were happening to you. And in doing so, it developed some comment and some discussion with others about that relationship that it takes to, in a sense, get to a level of understanding with God. And all of that reminded me of a story that’s in Genesis chapter 32. You know it well – where we have the patriarch Jacob encountering what is said to be a Man, and he wrestles all night. Now, he, at the end of the story, finds out that he’s wrestled with God, and God changes his name. But he wrestles all night with God.
Now, that took a great deal of exertion and at one point in the story, it says that the Man – whom we know to be God – says to Jacob, “Let Me go,” and Jacob says, “I’ll not let You go until You bless me.” Well, eventually at the break of day, his name is changed, the blessing is there, and Jacob says, “I have seen God”. And so he recognizes that he’s had a remarkable encounter with God, the One who became Jesus Christ. But he – to get to that point, he had to wrestle all night (Genesis 32:22-32 Genesis 32:22-32  And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two womenservants, and his eleven sons, and passed over the ford Jabbok.
 And he took them, and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he had.
 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.
 And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.
 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaks. And he said, I will not let you go, except you bless me.
 And he said to him, What is your name? And he said, Jacob.
 And he said, Your name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince have you power with God and with men, and have prevailed.
 And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray you, your name. And he said, Why is it that you do ask after my name? And he blessed him there.
 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.
 And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he halted on his thigh.
 Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank, which is on the hollow of the thigh, to this day: because he touched the hollow of Jacob's thigh in the sinew that shrank.
American King James Version×).
What’s the point for you and I in this? Well, at times in our lives, we’re going to be called upon to wrestle with God in prayer, emotionally, to come to understanding of what is happening in our life, what God is doing as He works with us personally, to perfect us in the character for His kingdom that our calling requires. And we’re going to have to engage with God and at times, engage to a point where we perspire, we groan, we travail in that relationship to come to the understanding and also to the help that we will need to get through the trial, to be able to stand but also to get through it, to understand what God is doing with us.
It’s a remarkable story. Wrestling with God today, emotionally and in prayer, is very important. And when we come to that, it gets us to another point that I’ll make in the next Beyond Today Daily in this series, “Wrestling with God”.
That’s BT Daily. Join us next time.