‘So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying,
“It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”’
Not long ago, I listened to James Robinson interview a woman by the name of Kasey Van Norman on his show “Life Today”. She spoke about her book titled “Raw Faith.” She describes her amazing battle with cancer and how her diagnoses initially felt like a “sucker punch from God”. Now there may be some that cringe at that statement but as I continued listening to her story; I found myself able to relate to how she felt. Its hard to receive a devastating diagnosis or any other type of life-altering news that comes suddenly! I was drawn by God to read Genesis 32:22-31. Some of you may be familiar with this passage, while some of you may not be so here it is in context:
‘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.’
I bet Jacob would have described it as a sucker punch as well. God didn’t choose to challenge Jacob in the midst of his worst sin, instead he chose to do it in the midst of an already repentant heart. You see, Jacob was finally on his way to make amends for stealing his brother’s inheritance by deceiving his father and pretending to be Esau. I’m sure God’s timing didn’t make sense to Jacob either. It certainly didn’t to Kasey Van Norman… Kasey had been serving in full time ministry with her husband, rescuing orphans off the street and out of abusive homes; you know, changing the world for Jesus- lol! She confessed to struggling with the “why now” question.
Isn’t it so like us in our human tendency to think that we’ve arrived at a place in life where we are no longer in need of God’s molding and just need to be let be to “Do God’s Will.” I noticed with myself, that I sometimes know the perspective that I’m supposed to have; but then I’m faced with a crisis and what I really believe suddenly surfaces. Out comes the “But God?” and the “Why Now?” Thankfully, as much as that is an accurate depiction of us; it is also so like God to give us a healthy dose of reality! God has a purpose for everything that He allows, even the difficult things!
Make no mistake, God met Jacob therefrustrating. He knows that its hard, painful, scary, frustrating, and even confusing to walk through hardship. But if we are willing to open the eyes of our hearts and participate in the struggle, we will most assuredly meet our Savior! Sometimes, although we think we are wrestling with the enemy, we’re actually wrestling with our Heavenly Father. We tend to think that we are the ones that desire and seek out deeper relationship with Christ; but perhaps we’ve forgotten who was the first to seek who out? God has always been the initiator of intimate relationship with us and He will do whatever it takes, even if it means allowing pain, discomfort, and even failure! Sometimes, its the limp that we need in order to draw closer to God. Our woundings require nothing of us except to be utterly dependent upon God! It is both the most dangerous and safest place to be! That’s not to say that God is out to beat us up, because He’s not! We live in a fallen world and experience its results daily, but God is good and transforms our ashes into something beautiful! The enemy may have plans to destroy us, but God has plans to redeem us and every situation that touches our lives!!!
Jacob may have experienced fear, pain, discomfort, and even regret during his struggle; but he walked away forever changed and marked by His God. Hang on in the midst of your struggle and persevere to the very end! It may “FEEL” as though God just wanted to “Sucker Punch” you, but that’s impossible because there’s no purpose in it… only the enemy desires to sucker punch us. Hang onto God, draw closer to Him, and expect to be blessed by your Father who loves you and only does and allows things concerning you to take place if they serve a Kingdom Purpose! God Bless you all!!