The Word Is My Life

"The Word is My Life" Training Ministry

Wrestling With the Past to Lay Hold of Your Purpose

In these challenging times, we can find ourselves wrestling within. Are we fulfilling our purpose? Just what is our purpose? Let me share about wrestling within and how it can bring clarity to your life and lead you to your destiny.

In 2 Timothy 3, we read about perilous times: “Men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers” and on and on. Instead of humbling themselves in humility before God, some will continue in self-will and sin, despising what is good.

On the other hand, blessed are those who acknowledge their need for God and humbly place their trust in Him (Ps. 40:4).

Through encounters with Christ, it is possible to shift from being a lover of self (and self-will) to being a lover of God (and His will). Let’s see how by looking at the life of Jacob, a schemer.

Jacob’s Story of Treachery, Repentance, and Blessing

As a young man, Jacob conned his twin brother Esau out of his birthright. Then, continuing his dishonesty, Jacob convinced his father Isaac that he was his brother and received the blessing due to Esau.

Jacob ultimately reaped what he sowed: His future father-in-law Laban deceived Jacob into marrying his older daughter Leah instead of Rachel, who Jacob deeply loved and preferred. To win the hand of Rachel, Jacob had to work for Laban for seven more years.

Jacob and Esau’s lives had long parted, but the day came when their paths would cross again, and Jacob felt troubled. He recognized that something was not right within him. Years of trickery and unresolved family conflict had caught up with him.

While alone one night, an angel appeared and wrestled with Jacob, who grabbed the angel and held on tight (Gen. 32:24-25). Fighting for a change in his life, he wrestled earnestly with the angel that some commentators believe was Christ. In that encounter, Jacob wept in repentance over his life (Hosea 12:4).

Jacob also wrestled with himself in the struggle – the old Jacob versus the new. The part of Jacob that yearned to live rightly scuffled with the deceiving and conniving part of him. Jacob tussled with such desperation that the Bible says, “When the Man (angel) saw that He had not prevailed against Jacob, He touched his hip joint; and Jacob’s hip was dislocated” (Gen. 32:25, Amplified). From then on, Jacob walked with a limp.

Miraculously, right alongside the wounding of his body, Jacob received deliverance from his past – his character and priorities changed. He did not let go until He received a blessing (Gen. 32:26). So, what was the blessing? The blessing was a name change: “And the angel said, ‘Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed’” (Gen. 32:28). The name change reflected the transformation within him. 

The struggle lasted until the breaking of day (Gen. 32:26). When the sun arose upon Jacob’s soul, he had gained his freedom. His new name was Israel, which means “He who struggles with God” and “a prince of God.” From then on, Jacob (or Israel) walked in his purpose and destiny.

The Lesson: Life Change

We learn a valuable lesson from Jacob’s life: Life change begins when we see ourselves, acknowledge what we see, repent, and then allow God to break us. This breaking humbles us. We experience the pain of turning from past ways that offered comfort to us. We then turn toward and embrace the newness of God’s ways that bring blessing to us and glorify God.

In Hebrews 11, we read the life stories of our spiritual forefathers in the hall of faith. Jacob (Israel) is there. And what does the writer of Hebrews say about Jacob? How is he remembered? “By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff (Hebrews 11:21). Yes, Jacob became a worshiper. And “leaning on the top of his staff” pays tribute to the result of his wrestling encounter – his brokenness.

God honors us when we hold tightly to Him as our flaws and faults seemingly overwhelm us. When we acknowledge what must change within us, we receive help and a blessing from the Lord. Praise Him! 

Receive the breaking of day within your soul. Peace to you!