In Case You Missed It -- Genesis 32-33, Psalm 20
Today Jacob continues his trek back to the land of Canaan. Before he arrives, Jacob makes preparations in case his older brother Esau does not receive him warmly. To Jacob’s surprise, God—called the “God of Jacob” in our Psalm reading for today (Psalm 20:1)—has softened Esau over the years. Esau has his own blessings and does not need Jacob’s riches. God shows kindness to both when the formerly murderous brother welcomes his younger brother home in peace. But today’s reading offers an even more interesting event: the wrestling match Jacob has with this mysterious man (Genesis 32:22-32). The details are sparse, but the significance should not be missed. After they finish wrestling, Jacob is renamed Israel, meaning “he strives with God.” Specifically, Jacob strives with this man, only to find he is actually striving with God in human form. So Jacob holds onto God for His blessings even after God disables him (Genesis 32:25-26). Jacob finally understands he ought not trust in his own ingenuity or strength for what is best; those traits did not serve him well with Esau and Laban. Jacob, by wrestling with God for blessing, shows he has learned not to “trust in horses and chariots” but to “trust in the name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7). We all spend hours each day working hard, fighting hard, arguing hard, and expending energy to find blessings for ourselves, yet Jacob’s wrestling match invites us to expend ourselves differently. Let us be a people who give ourselves to God, saying “We will not let you go until you bless us.” This is the sort of prayer God will gladly answer by giving us His greatest blessing: Himself (Psalm 37:4). May we all wrestle with God and find the same blessing as Jacob—God with us in all of life.