The Balance between Wrestling and Resting

Sometimes I really don’t like the men and women of the Bible. Do you know there are only two men, besides Jesus, about whom the Bible records no sin?* The rest of the crowd is a motley bunch of liars, thieves, connivers, adulterers, and murderers. Yuck. 

I read about Jacob this week in my quest to read through the Bible in a year. Jacob, the original mama’s boy, connived, coerced, and bribed his big brother into giving away his birthright and all that accompanied it. Later, he conspired with his mom to steal his brother’s blessing. Wasn’t the birthright enough, Jacob? You had to steal the blessing, too? 

Esau was so angry when he realized what Jacob had done that he threatened to kill him. And because Jacob was smart as well as sly, he took the hint and ran far, far away, to Uncle Laban’s house, where he hid out for 20 years. 

But God had a plan for Jacob. Although Jacob ran from his brother, he couldn’t run from God. God told Jacob to return to his homeland and make things right with his family. “No more witness protection plan for you, Buddy,” God said to him. “It’s time to grow up.” 

The night before he was to meet Esau, Jacob met God on the plains of Mahanaim. He wrestled with God all night, confessed his sinful ways, and forsook his faithless life. Jacob became a new person. 

The arrogant, manipulative blessing stealer now prepared to meet his brother with humility and transparency. He sent gift after gift on ahead of his arrival, each more lavish than the last. Still limping from his heavenly wrestling match, he bowed seven times with his face to the ground as Esau approached. 

“What are all these gifts?” Esau asked. 

“These are to find favor in your eyes, my lord,” Jacob replied. “Please take my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough.” 

Jacob who, years before, had  lied, manipulated, and stolen to wrestle the blessing from his brother was now giving it back. He finally recognized that God is the giver of all good things and trusted him to provide everything he needed. 

Sometimes I’m a lot like Jacob. Instead of trusting God to do a good work in me, my family, and my ministry, I take matters into my own hands. I try to circumvent God’s timing, manipulate my circumstances, and compel things to happen by dogged determination and sheer force of will. In doing so, I fail to trust him with those things I hold dearest. What a foolish woman I am. 

“You’ve planted the seeds of faith in your children,” a wise counselor once said to me, “now trust God to make them grow.” Trusting God with my children is just one example of how I, like Jacob, must rest in God’s power, not my own. 

What do you want most today? Will you trust God with it? If he wants you to have it, he will bring it about in his perfect timing. If he doesn’t, will you trust him to give you something even better in its place? May we all, one day, say with Israel, “God has dealt graciously with me, and I have enough.” 

Many times, like Jacob, we surrender something to God only to receive it back from him in his perfect timing. Have you experienced this in your life? I’d love to hear your story. Leave a comment below and bless us all.

(As I read through the Bible in a year, this post comes from  Genesis 32-33.)

*The two men of whom the Bible records no sin are Joseph and Daniel. While we know they did sin, because only Jesus was sinless, they exhibited such godly characters that God chose not to record their failings in the Scriptures.

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  1. I thought the two would be Joshua and Caleb, about whom the Bible says, "they have followed the Lord fully." I don't remember what sin was recorded for each of them. Anybody?

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  4. Sometimes I really don't like the men and women of the Bible. Do you ...