He was known as a deceitful man, one who did whatever it took to get his way. His name, Jacob, meant "supplanter, schemer, cheater; one who grabs from behind." Through his schemes, he had accumulated much wealth. For many years he had been running from the truth but that night, he could not run any longer.
He had sent all of his wives, servants and company...everything he had across the Jabbok River and was left on the riverbank completely alone with his doubts, dreams and fears. He was troubled not only by his past, but also his future. The next morning he was to meet up with Essau, the brother that he had wronged and stolen from years ago. His brother was much larger and stronger than Jacob and as he thought more and more about his situation, fear began to sink into his heart. Surely, his brother would take everything from him or possibily even kill him. He needed some answers, some assurance as he faced the future and yet...that night, he sat completely alone.
It could have been that Jacob began to pray that night. In the agony of his soul, he cried out to God. Perhaps, for the first time in his life, Jacob earnestly began to wrestle in prayer...then, something happened. He was no longer alone by the riverside. It was as though he sensed that God was really present with him. God's presence and purpose became more and more real to him until, suddenly, He was real! His uplifted arms were actually clinging to God, Himself! There God was...flesh to flesh...bone to bone...in human form!
They wrestled through the night until the match reached a turning point...God touched Jacob in the hollow of his thigh and dislocated his hip joint. Suddenly, Jacob was weakened and immobilized. He yelled out in unbearbale pain as he stopped wrestling and started clinging!
You see, there is a difference between wrestling and clinging. To "wrestle" is to contend and fight for dominance. However, to "cling" is to hold on to, to grasp in desperation. Even though it hurt, even though he was broken beyond measure - Jacob refused to let go. Instead of crying out in pain and running the other direction, his grip tightened and his knuckles turned white holding onto this heavenly being. In that moment, the same God whom he had wrestled with all night became his answer to prayer, his only hope...his everything.
As morning dawn began to break, the pre-incarnate Christ instructed for Jacob to let go - however, Jacob responds back in a life-changing way.
"I will not let you go until you bless me." - Genesis 32:26
God, in turn, blessed Jacob, not because He had to or was forced to, but because Jacob was finally ready to receive the blessing. "What is your name?" God asked. Yet what He was really asking Jacob was, "Who are you?" As Jacob clung on to Him in pain, he answered, "I'm Jacob, the schemer, the one who grabs from behind, the scared mama's boy, the con-man, the self-centered, self- serving, self-sufficient one!" Then God said, "Your name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for you have wrestled with God and prevailed." It was as if God was saying, "This is who you were...but because you have wrestled through your faith and prevailed, you will never be same."
This is the part I love...
God did not bless him by taking away Jacob's brokenness...even though that may have been what Jacob was asking for at the time. Instead, He blessed Jacob in a way that was unexpected by giving him a new name...a new purpose. From that night on, Jacob would forever walk with a limp...a physical reminder of both the brokenness and the blessing. His limp was outward sign to everyone who met him that he was changed. His physical pain must have been beyond measure and I am sure that every day, for the rest of his life, his hip would cause him great misery. Yet, I am sure that Jacob would gladly take the pain for the joy he received in being made new that night. To him, everything he would endure physically in the days to come, were worth it all for that one moment...that one touch. Jacob was forever broken, but he was also forever blessed.
I think about my life before Luke and the way that I viewed my faith and my relationship with Christ. I was strong, I thought that I had it all together. However, during the days of his diagnosis, birth and surgeries...I admit that I did my fair share of wrestling with God. I began to pray, seek and question Him in a way that I never had before. Some days I couldn't help but be bitter and angry...after all, it was was MY baby that was sick, MY dreams that were fading away. Yet, God is faithful and understanding during our weakest times. He allowed me to be mad, to cry, to scream out at Him...He knew that it was in the battle that my faith began to grow stronger.
Then, the morning light came on July 10th, 2010. Luke's condition had worsened and I knew that it was time to let go...yet the mother inside of me wanted to hold on even tighter. Finally, that night as Luke left my arms, I felt as if Christ literally reached down and touched me. Oh, did it hurt!...but even in my pain, even in the agony of losing my sweet baby...I found myself holding on to Jesus tighter than I ever had before. Now, five months later, I still have not let go. The pain is still there and I still wake up each day with an ache in my heart for a baby I will never see grow. My heart literally hurts so bad at times it is all I can do not to scream out in pain. Luke is gone and because of his absense, I am forever wounded - yet forever changed...forever blessed.
If it weren't for Luke's story...I would not see my life the way that I do today. I would not love this deeply. I would not pray this hard. I would not be as bold with my faith as I am. I would not wake up every day ready to change the world. I am forever changed...forever blessed.
God showed me through this Scripture to look at my brokenness, not as a pain or thorn in my side...but as my very own life-changing blessing. To realize that I will always be broken and instead of trying to fix my brokenness - that I should accept it as a part of who I am and will always be. To embrace my tears, my aches, my bad days knowing that as much as I am broken, I am equally blessed. My brokenness and blessing will continue coexist, side by side the rest of my life; there will never be one without the other...and that is okay with me.
What you speak into your life is what you will get back out of it. So often, we allow satan to be glorified in our lives by focusing more on what we do not have instead of giving God glory for all that is ours. I could live life every day thinking about the son that I don't have - but instead, I find peace in giving God glory for giving me not just a son...but a blessing that has forever changed my life. I encourage you...instead of crying out constantly to God about your brokenness, be changed in praising Him for your blessing. They are, after all...so often one in the same.
My prayer every day this week has been..."God, I'm not letting go...I'm not giving up. Even when its hard and even when it hurts, I choose to hold on to you. I will not let go until you bless me."
And sure enough, He has... and He is.
He wants to bless you too. Don't let go, don't give up...no matter how hard it may seem right now. Sometimes life's greatest blessings come when you wake up and realize that being broken can be breathtakingly beautiful.