And he arose that night and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven sons, and crossed over the ford of Jabbok. He took them, sent them over the brook, and sent over what he had. Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. (Genesis 32:22-24)
Though he had divided those with him in two camps, his immediate family had stayed with him. One would assume this was to position them as far away from the danger as possible. But the time came that even they were sent across the brook leaving him alone. It is in that environment that Jacob had the most monumental experience of his life.
Why the wrestling match with the man began is unclear but struggling with others seems to be indicative of Jacob’s existence. We know that Jacob had wrestled Esau in Rachel’s womb; here he wrestled someone on the eve of confronting Esau once again. In the former contest it would seem, on the surface at least, that Jacob had lost to Esau. Yet since that time, he had outwitted both Esau and Laban which resulted in having to flee from them both out of fear.
That fact provokes this consideration: perhaps the time had come for Jacob to overcome those fears which is why he had to struggle with God. Just before this he was more or less forced to confront Laban; just after this he was forced to confront Esau. It seems that Jacob was having to come to terms with the fact that, though God had promised him blessing and protection, he wrestled with the notion that God would actually do what He had promised. “You said you would preserve me but Esau is coming with 400 men. Are you going to do what you promised you would do?”
I believe that, at some point in our lives, all of us have this struggle. We know that God has preserved and provided for us in the past but then something happens that resurrects our greatest fears. The thought of having to face that fear causes us to question God — “I know you can help me, but are you going to help me?”
It is easy for me to believe that God would provide for Noah, Abraham, Jacob and others because they were great men of God. It’s much more difficult for me to believe that He would do the same for me because I know me. I don’t feel that I measure up to those men in terms of faith and so, it is in those times that I find myself struggling with God. Perhaps you have experienced this as well? If that is you then learn a lesson from Jacob’s greatest wrestling match — don’t let go. Hang on until the day breaks and the assurance that He will do what He has promised you brings you peace.
Blessings and Shalom,