That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 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 humans and have overcome.” Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.
This story has always stuck with me. In my own life, I can recall seasons of wrestling with God. Maybe they did not look like a physical wrestling with God, but in my heart and my soul, I was wrestling with God, searching for answers that I did not have.
God is so patient with us. He lets us wrestle because He knows that it’s good for us. He could choose to ignore us, reject us, deny us, but He doesn’t. He lets us wrestle, knowing He has already won.
This passage reminds us that God doesn’t only let us wrestle Him, He gives us a new name and blesses us. I wonder how often the limp reminded Jacob of his wrestling match with God. When God’s spirit touches us, it leaves a mark on our hearts. 2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Out of our weakness, God’s grace makes us strong so that His power may rest on us.